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VOL. I. 



< <z*J 

ENTERED according to the act of Congress, in the year 1837, 

In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New York. 








IT was the desire of the late General Lafayette, that 
this edition of his Memoirs and Correspondence should 
be considered as a legacy to the American people. 
His representatives have accordingly pursued a course 
which they conceived the best adapted to give effect to 
his wishes, by furnishing a separate edition for this 
country, without any reservation for their own advantage, 
beyond the transfer of the copyright as an indemnity 
for the expense and risk of publication. 

In this edition are inserted some letters which will not 
appear in the editions published in Paris and London. 
They contain details relating to the American Revolu- 
tion, and render the present edition more complete, or, 
at least, more interesting to Americans. Although 
written during the first residence of General Lafayette in 


America when he was little accustomed to write in the 
English language the letters in question are given ex- 
actly as they came from his pen and as well as the 
others in the collection written by him in that language, 
are distinguished from those translated from the Frenchj 
by having the word " Original" prefixed to them. 

It was intended that these letters should have been 
arranged among those in the body of the work, in the 
order of their respective dates ; but as the latter had 
been stereotyped before the former had been transmitted 
to the American editor, this design was rendered imprac- 
ticable. They have therefore from necessity been added 
in a supplemental form with the marginal notes which 
seemed requisite for their explanation. 
Columbia College, N. Y.,July, 1837. 

RESPECTFULLY to collect and scrupulously 
to arrange the manuscripts of which an 
irreparable misfortune has rendered them 
depositaries, have been for the Family of 
General Lafayette the accomplishment of a 
sacred duty. 

To publish those manuscripts without 
any commentary, and place them, unaltered, 
in the hands of the friends of Liberty, is 
a pious and solemn homage which his 
children now offer with confidence to his 



UNDER the title of Revolution of America, are com- 
prised eight years of M. de Lafayette's life,* from 
the commencement of 1771 until the end of 1784. 
His three voyages to the United States divide those 
eight years into three periods : 1777, 1778 ; 1779 
1781 ; and 17821784. 

1st. Circumstantial Memoirs, written for his friends 
after the peace of Versailles, and which were to have 
extended to 1780, open this collection. 

2nd. These are continued and completed by two 
detached relations, composed between 1800 and 
1814 ; the first, which has no title, and might be 
called Notice of the American Life of General La- 
fayette, appears to have been written for a person 
intending to publish the history of the war, or of 
General Washington ; the second is entitled, Obser- 
vations on some portion of American History, by a 
friend of General Lafayette. 

As these two relations, both written by M. de 
Lafayette, and which we designate under the names 

* M. de Lafayette (Marie-Paul-Joseph-Roch-Yois-Gilbert 
Metier) born at Chavaniac, in Auvergne, the 6th of September, 
1757; married the llth of April, 1774; set out for America 
the 26th of April, 1777. The other dates will be mentioned in 
proper order, with each particular event. All the notes which 
are not followed by the name of M. de Lafayette, may be attri- 
buted to the members of his family, sole editors of this work. 
VOL, I. A 


of Manuscript, No. 1 , and Manuscript, No. 2, con- 
tain a second, and occasionally a third, account of 
events already mentioned in the Memoirs, we have 
only inserted quotations from them. 

3rd. A relation of the campaign in Virginia, in 
1781, shall be inserted in its complete state. 

4th. Extracts from the collection of the general's 
speeches, begun by him in 1829, will give some 
details of his third voyage to America (1784). 

5th. With the account of each particular period, 
that portion of the correspondence which may relate 
to it will be inserted. From a great number of 
letters, written from America, and addressed either 
to France or to America, or from France to America, 
those only have been suppressed whose repetitions, 
or details, purely military, would render them unin- 
teresting to the public. 

6th. In the Correspondence, some letters have 
been inserted from General Washington, and other 
contemporaries, and also some historical records, of 
which M. de Lafayette had taken copies, or which 
have been extracted from various collections pub- 
lished in the United States. 


WHEN, devoted from early youth to the amhition of 
liberty, I beheld no limit to the path that I had 
opened for myself, it appeared to me that I was 
sufficiently fulfilling my destiny, and satisfying my 
glory, by rushing incessantly forward, and leaving 
to others the care of collecting the recollections, as 
well as the fruits, of my labour. 

After having enjoyed an uninterrupted course of 
good fortune for fifteen years, I presented myself, 
with a favourable prospect of success, before the 
coalition of kings, and the aristocracy of Europe : I 
was overthrown by the simultaneous fury of French 
jacobinism. My person was then given up to the 
vengeance of my natural enemies, and my reputa- 
tion to the calumnies of those self-styled patriots 
who had so lately violated every sworn and national 
guarantee. It is well known that the regimen of 
my five years' imprisonment was not favourable to 
literary occupations, and when, on my deliverance 
from prison, I was advised to write an explanation 
of my conduct, I was disgusted with all works of the 
kind, by the numerous memoirs or notices by which 
so many persons had trespassed upon the attention 

* Although this notice, written a short time before the 18th 
Brumaire, be anterior to a great number of events, in the midst 
of which General Lafayette continued his public life, we have 
placed it in this part of the work, as a sort of general introduc- 
tion to the various materials it contains. 


of the public. Events had also spoken for us ; and 
many accusers, and many accusations, had fallen 
into oblivion. 

As soon as I returned to France, my friends re- 
quested me to write memoirs : I found excuses for 
not doing so in my reluctance to judge with severity 
the first jacobin chiefs who have shared since in my 
proscription, theGirondins, who have died for those 
very principles they had opposed and persecuted in 
me, the king and queen, whose lamentable fate only 
allows me to pride myself upon some services I have 
rendered them, and the vanquished royalists, who 
are at present deprived of fortune, and exposed to 
every arbitrary measure. I ought to add, likewise, 
that, happy in my retreat, in the bosom of my family, 
and occupied with agricultural pursuits, I know not 
how to purloin one moment from the enjoyments of 
my domestic life. 

But my friends have renewed their request, and, 
to comply in some degree with it, I have consented 
to place in order the few papers that I still possess, 
assemble together some relations which have been 
already published, and unite, by notes, the whole 
collection, in which my children and friends may 
one day find materials for a less insignificant work. 

As to myself, I acknowledge that my indolence 
in this respect is owing to the intimate conviction 
which I feel, that liberty will ultimately be estab- 
lished in the old as well as in the new world, and 
that then the history of our revolutions will put all 
things and all persons in their proper places. 





Notice by the Editors - i 


1777, 1778. 
Memoirs written by myself, until the year 1780 - 1 


A. Departure for America in 1777 69 
B. First Interview between General Washington and General 

Lafayette - 73 

C. On the Military commands during the Winter of 1778 74 

D- Retreat of Barren Hill 77 

E. Arrival of the French Fleet - . 78 

F. Dissensions between the French Fleet and the American 

Army ------ 80 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778 : 

To the Duke d'Ayen. London, March 9, 1777 - 

To Madame de Lafayette. On board the Victory, May 30 85 

To Madame de Lafayette. Charlestown, June 19 

To Madame de Lafayette. Petersburg, July 17 

To Madame de Lafayette. July 23 - - 100 

To Madame de Lafayette. Philadelphia, Sept. 12 - 101 

To Madame de Lafayette. Oct. 1 - - 102 

To M. de Vergennes, Minister of Foreign affairs. Whitemarsh 

Camp, Oct. 24 - 108 

To Madame de Lafayette. Whitemarsh Camp, Oct. 29, and 

Nov. 6 - - 113, 115 

To General Washington. Haddonfield, Nov. 2G - 120 

To the Duke d'Ayen. Camp Gulph, Pennsylvania, Dec. 16 - 123 
To General Washington. Camp, Dec. 30 
To General Washington. Head Quarters, Dec. 31 
To General Washington. Valley Forge, Dec. 31 - - 141 



To Madame de Lafayette. Camp, near Valley Forge, Jan. 6, 

1778 - 142 

To General Washington - - 146 

To Madame de Lafayette. York, Feb 3 - ' 150 

To General Washington. Hermingtown, Feb. 9 153 

To General Washington. Albany, Feb. 19 - 154 

To General Washington. Feb. 23 - - 158 

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Head 

Quarters, March 10 - 151 

To Baron de Steuben. Albany, March 12 - 163 
Fragment of a Letter to the President of Congress. Albany, 

March 20 - - 163 

To General Washington. Albany, March 25 - 165 
To Madame de Lafayette. Valley Forge Camp, in Pennsylvania, 

April 14 - - 167 

To Madame de Lafayette. Germantown, April 28 - 169 

To General Washington. Valley Forge Camp, May 19 - 170 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Camp, 

May 17 - 171 

To the Marquis de Lafayette. (Instructions.) - - 172 

To Madame de Lafayette. Valley Forge Camp, June 16 - 374 

To the Marquis de Lafayette. (Instructions.) - - 178 

To General Washington. Ice Town, June 26 - - 178 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Cranberry, 

June 26 - - 180 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. White 

Plains, July 22 - 181 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Head 

Quarters, White Plains, July 27 - - 182 

To General Washington. Providence, Aug. 6 - 183 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. White 

Plains, Aug. 10 - - 185 

To General Washington. Camp before Newport, Aug. 25 - 186 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. White 

Plains, Sept. . . . 195 
From General Washington to Major-General Sullivan. Head 

Quarters, White Plains, Sept. 1 - - - - 196 
From General Washington to Major-General Greene. Head 

Quarters, White Plains, Sept. 1 - - 197 

To General Washington. Tyverton, Sept, 1 - - 199 

To General Washington. Camp, near Bristol, Sept. 7 - 203 

To the Duke d'Ayen. Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 11 - 204 

To Madame de Lafayette. Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 13, 214 
President Laurens to the Marquis de Lafayette. Philadelphia, 

Sept. 13 - - - - 219 



Marquis de Lafayette to President Laurens. Camp, Sept. 23 - 220 
To General Washington. Warren, Sept. 24 - - 221 

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Fre- 

dericksburg, Sept. 25 - 223 

To General Washington. Camp near Warren, Sept 24 - 227 

To General Washington. Boston, Sept. 28 230 

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Fishkill, 

Oct. 4 - 231 

Marquis de Lafayette to President Laurens. Philadelphia, 

Oct. 13 ^ 233 

President Laurens to the Marquis de Lafayette. Philadelphia, 

Oct. 24 - 234 

To General Washington. Philadelphia, Oct. 24 - 236 

Lord Carlisle to M. de Lafayette - - 237 

Marquis de Lafayette to President Laurens. Philadelphia, 

Oct26 - - 2:18 

Fragment of a Letter from the French Minister,M. Gerard, to 

Count de Vergennes. October - - 239 

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Phi- 
ladelphia, Dec. 29 - - 240 
From General Washington to General Franklin, American 

Minister in France. Philadelphia, Dec. 28 - 241 

To General Washington. Boston, January 5, 1779 - - 242 

To General Washington. On board the Alliance, off Boston, 

January 11, 1779 - 244 

1780, 1781. 

HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OP 1779, 1780, and 1781. - 247 

To Count de Vergennes. Paris, February 24, 1779 - - 277 

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Camp 

at Middlebrook, March 8 - 278 

To M. de Vergennes, Paris, April 1, and April 26 282, 284 

To the President of Congress. St. Jean de Angeli, near Rochefort, 

June 12 - - 286 

To General Washington. St. Jean de Angeli, near Rochefort 

harbor, June 12 - 290 

To the Count de Vergennes. Havre, July 30 - - - 296 

To M. de Vergennes. Paris, August - - - - 299 

Dr. Franklin to the Marquis de Lafayette. Passy, August 24 - 303 

To Dr. Franklin. Havre, August 29 - 303 



From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. West 

Point, December 30 - 304 

To General Washington. Havre, October 7 - - 310 

To M. de Vergennes. Versailles, Feb. 22, 1780 - 314 

To his Excellency General Washington. At the entrance of 

Boston hnrbor, April 27 - - - - 318 
To M. de Vergennes. Waterburg, on the Boston road, from the 

Camp, May 6 - - 318 

From General Washington. Morris Town, May - - 320 

To the Count de Rochambeau. Philadelphia, May 19 - - 321 

To General Washington. Camp at Preakness, July 4 - - 325 
To MM. le Comte de Rochambeau and le Chevalier de Terriay. 

Camp before Dobb's Ferry, August 9 328 
From Count de Rochambeau to M. de Lafayette. Newport, 

August 12 - - 339 

To MM. de Rochambeau and de Ternay. Camp, August 18 - 341 

To M. de Rochambeau. Camp, August 18 - - 344 

From M. de Rochambeau. Newport, August 27 - 347 
To the Chevalier de la Luzerne. Robinson House, opposite West 

Point, Sept. 26 - 349 
To Madame de Tesse. Camp, on the right side of North River, 

near the Island of New York, October 4 - 351 

To General Washington. Light Camp, October 30 - 358 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. Head 

Quarters, October 36 - 302 

To General Washington. Light Camp, November 13 - 363 

To General Washington, Paramus, November 28 - 365 

To his Excellency General Washington. Philadelphia, Dec. 5 - 367 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. New 

Windsor, December 14 - 371 
To M. de Vergennes. New Windsor, on the North River, 

January 30, 1781 - .... 373. 
To Madame de Lafayette. New Windsor, on the North River, 

February 2 - 383 

To General Washington. Elk, March 8 - 387 

Te General Washington. On board the Dolphin, March 9 - 390 

To General Washington. Williamsburg, March 23 - ' m 391 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette. New 

Windsor, April 6 - ... 395 

To General Washington. Elk, April 8 - - - - 397 

To Colonel Hamilton. Susquehannah Ferry, April 18 - - 402 

To General Washington. Baltimore, April 18 - - 403 

To General Washington. Alexandria, April 23 - - X 406 
From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette New 

Windsor, May 4 - - - . . . 407 



From General Washington to Lund Washington. New Windsor, 

April 30 - 409 
To General Washingion. Camp Wilton, on James River, 

May 17 - - - 410 
From General Phillips to the Marquis de Lafayette. British 

Camp at Osborn, April 28 - 412 
From General Phillips to the Marquis de Lafayette. Camp at 

Osborn, April 29, - - 413 

To Major General Phillips. American Camp, April 30 - - 413 

To Major-General Phillips. May 3 - 415 

Note for Captain Emyne. May 15 - - 415 

Note from General Arnold to Captain Ragedale - - 415 

To General Washington. Richmond, May 24 - - 416 

To General Washington. Camp, June 28 - 418 

Extracts of severa Letters to General Washington - - 420 
To Madame de Lafayette. Camp, between the branches of 

York River, August 24 - - 430 
To M. de Vergennes. Camp between the branches of York 

River, August 24 - - 433 
To M de Maurepas. Camp, between the branches of York 

River, August 24 - - 434 

To General Washington. Holt's Forge, September 1 - - 435 

To General Washington. Williamsburg, September 8 - - 440 

To General Washington. Camp before York, Octobei 16 - 443 

To M. de Maurepas. Camp near York, October 20 - - 444 

To M. de Vergennes. Camp near York, October 20 - - 445 
To Madame de Lafayette. On board La Ville de Paris, in 

Chesapeake Bay, October 22 - - 445 

The Marquis de Segur to M. de Lafayette. Dec. 5 - 447 

To General Washington. Alliance, off Boston, December 21 - 448 


To General Washington. Robins' Tavern, June 26, 1778 - 451 

To General Washington. Cranbarry June - - - 452 

To General Washington. June 28 - - 453 

To General Washington. Cranbarry, June 29 - - - 454 

To the Count de Vergennes. St. Jean de Angeli, June, 1779 - 455 

To the Count de Vergennes. Havre, July 9 - 455 

To the President of Congress. Havre, October 7 - 456 

To General Washington Peekskill, July 20, 1780 - - 459 

To General Washington. Danbury, July 2 L - - 461 

To General Washington. Hartford, July 22 - - 462 

To General Washington. Lebanon, July 23 - - 464 


To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To Major-General Greene. 


Newport, July 26 - 
Newport, July 26 
Newport, July 29 
Newport, July 31 
Newport; August 1 - 
Elizabethtown, October 27 - 
Light Camp, October 27 
Philadelphia, December 4 

December 5 - 

Philadelphia, December 16 - 
Philadelphia, March 2, 1781 
Head of Elk, March 7 
Off Turkey Point, March 9 - 
York, March 15 
Elk, April 10 

Susquehannah Ferry, April 13 
Snsquehannah Ferry, April 13 
Susquehannah Ferry, April 14 
Hanover Court House, April 28 

To General Greene. Camp on Pamunkey River, May 3 

To General Washington. Camp near Bottom's Creek, May 4 

To General Washing! n. Richmond. May 8 

To General Washington. Welton, north side of James River 

May 18 - 

To Colonel Hamilton. Richmond May 23 
To General Washington. Richmond, May 24 - 
1 o General Washington. Camp between Rappanannock and 

North Anna, June 3 - 

To General Greene. Camp between Rappahannock and North 

Anna, June 3 - 

To General Greene. 
To General Greene. 
To General Greene. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 

Allen's Creek, June 18 - 
Mr. Tyler's Plantation, June 27 - 
Ambler's Plantation, July 8 
Mrs. Ruffin's, August 29 
Holt's Forge, September 1 - 
Camp Williamsburg, September 8 
W illiamsburg, > eptember 10 

To General Washington. 
To General Washington. 

Camp before York, Sept. 30 
November 29 - 









I. A Summary of the Campaign of 1781, explanatory of the Map 535 
II. Letter from M. de Lafayette to M. de Vergennea - - 540 


Page i, Iin3 1, (note,) /or Yois read Yves. 

iii, 1, (note,) for before read after. 

3, 7, for to read of. 

4, G, for an read a. 

10, 15, for home read house. 

16, 11, for an read a. 

22, 11, for hardly read scarcely. 

23, 31, for his read their. 

'25, '23, for his read their. 

29, 24, for was read were. 

35, 19, for neither read no ; for nor 

read or. 

38, 5,/or himself read himself such 


43, 35, for was read were. 

46, 33, for an read a. 

55, 35, for Connecticut read Cannani- 


64, 18, for months read weeks. 

67, 19, for horrors read honors. 

80, 30, for Connecticut read Cannani- 


86, 22, for it and I read we. 

91, 21, for have forbidden some days 

since read I forbad some days 

92, 17, for was read were. 
101, 6, for an read a. 
104, 28, for an read a. 

106, 34, for and very read and a very. 
115, 4. for you read I. 
131, 26, for hope read trust. 
152, 2, for inform read rejoin. 
152, 5,/or an read a. 

Page 208, line 9, for no read us. 

217, 28, for heart, I admire read heart 

I admire. 

247, 6, for tie read connecting link. 

257, 30, for endeavored from circum- 

stances, &c. read endeavored 
to draw the slightest pecuniary 
advantage from circumstances. 

263, 12, for who read which. 

265, 13, /or every person was read all 


285, 27, for has read offer. 

297, 20, for The latter reasoning, &c., 

read The reasoning of the lat- 
ter does not bring me over to. 

299, 12, for was read were. 

299, 15, for this sacrifice read than 

would be to me the sacrifice. 

323, 13, for there read it. 

346, 2, for Frenchman read French- 


347, 5, for formed read form. 

348. 27, for either read one. 

351, 22, for Sesse read Tesse. 

352, 10, for monstrous read monoto- 


378, 10, for neither pay, clothes, nor 

read no pay clothes, or. 

378, 28, for notion read opinion. 

381, 6, for of r tad wilh. 

: 85, 13, for come read came. 

434, 12, for the read its. 

439, (note) for Jefferson read Nelson. 




] 7771 778. 




IF I were to confound, as is too often done, obsti- 
nacy with firmness, I should blush at beginning 
these memoirs, after having so long refused to do 
so, and at even increasing their apparent egotism 
by my style, instead of sheltering myself under 
cover of the third person ; but I will not yield a 
half compliance to the request of that tender friend- 
ship which is far more valuable to me than the 
ephemeral success which a journal might obtain. 
It is sufficient for me to know that this relation, 
intended for a few friends only, will never extend 
beyond their circle: it even possesses two very 

* Note by M. de Lafayette upon the Memoirs written ~by him- 
self and his American correspondence. Many papers relating to 
the first years of my public life have been destroyed during the 
reign of terror. An imperfect copy of these memoirs has been 
saved : this ought to have been re-written ; I have preferred 
copying it precisely as it was originally composed. 

Several letters written from America had been copied by my 
wife for Dr. Dubrucil, (physician to the king and to la Charite, 
at St. Germain-en-laza, deceased 1785,) whose friendship was 


great advantages over many celebrated books ; 
these are, that the public not being concerned in 
this work it cannot need a preface, and that the 
dedication of affection cannot require an epistle. 

It would be too poetical to place myself at once 
in another hemisphere, and too minute to dwell 
upon the particulars of my birth, which soon fol- 
lowed the death of my father at Minden ;* of my 
education in Auvergne, with tender and revered 
relations ; of my removal, at twelve years of age, 
to a college at Paris, f where I soon lost my virtu- 
ous mother,J and where the death of her father 
rendered me rich, although I had been born, com- 
paratively speaking, poor ; of some schoolboy suc- 
cesses, inspired by the love of glory and some- 
what disturbed by that of liberty ; of my entrance 
into the regiment of the black musketeers, which 

the pride of one portion of my life, and who has filled the re- 
mainder of it with a deep and tender recollection. Those 
papers have been preserved ; it would be necessary to suppress 
some repetitions and insignificant details, but I have left them 
almost all untouched, because, whilst forming this collection, I 
felt pleasure in recalling the sentiments that had animated me 
at various periods of my existence. 

The Duke d'Ayen, my father-in-law, was not one of the 
least hasty and severe censurers of my departure for America, 
but he restored to me his favour with all the kindness and sin- 
cerity which characterized him : his affectionate congratulations 
deeply touched my heart. The same feeling induces me at the 
present moment to repeat some details contained in the letters 
I addressed to him. 

* Michel-Louis-Christophe-Roch-Gilbert de Motier, Marquis 
de Lafayette, colonel of the grenadiers of France, Chevalier de 
St. Louis, killed at the battle of Minden before the age of 

f The college du Plessis. 

j Marie-Louise-Julie de la Riviere, died at Paris the 12th 
of April, 1770, some days before her father Joseph- Yves-Thi- 
bauld-Hyacinthe, Marquis de la Riviere. 


only interrupted my studies on review days ; and 
finally, of my marriage, at the age of sixteen, pre- 
ceded by a residence at the academy of Versailles. s 
I have still less to say relating to my entrance into 
the world ; to the short favour I enjoyed as con- 
stituting one member of a youthful society.; to 
some promises to the regiment de Noailles ; and to 
the unfavourable opinion entertained of me owing 
to my habitual silence when I did not think the 
subjects discussing worthy of being canvassed. 
The bad effects produced by disguised self-love and 
an observing disposition, were not softened by a 
natural simplicity of manner, which, without being 
improper on any great occasion, rendered it im- 
possible for me to bend to the graces of the court, 
or to the charms of a supper in the capital. 

You ask me at what period I first experienced 

* Previous to the marriage of M. de Lafayette, we have only 
one letter written by him at fourteen years of age, the 8th of 
February, 1772, which will be read perhaps with some curiosity. 
It is addressed to his cousin, Mademoiselle de Chavaniac. 

" I have just received, my dear cousin, your letter, and the 
good account you give me of my grandmother's health. After 
that, which was what first touched my heart, I was much in- 
terested by the account of the hunt of the proprietor of the 
forests of Lata. I should like very much to know whether 
those dogs that neither walk nor bark contributed to the suc- 
cess of the expedition ? The details of that hunt would have 
amused me very much ; if I had been speaking to you of a new- 
fashioned cap, I should have thought it my duty to have describ- 
ed to you its figure and proportions, with a compass in my hand. 

" Our cousin's marriage is broken off ; there is another one 
on the carpet, but they are obliged to lower their tone exceed- 
ingly. Mademoiselle de Roncherolles, a place with Madame de 
Bourbon, of a thousand crowns a-year, and five thousand small 
livres a-year that is the whole amount. You see that this 
is a very short abridgment of the other intended matches. My 
uncle, who came to see me the other day, consents to the mar- 
riage, on condition that the Prince de Conde will promise OU.Q 

B 2 


( my ardent love of liberty and glory ? I recollect no 

I time of my life anterior to my enthusiasm for anec- 

) dotes of glorious deeds, and to my projects of tra- 

\ veiling over the world to acquire fame. At eight 

years of age, my heart beat when I heard of an 

hyaena that had done some injury, and caused still 

/ more alarm, in our neighbourhood, and the hope of 

[ meeting it was the object of all my walks. When 

I/ I arrived at college, nothing ever interrupted my 

il studies, except my ardent wish of studying with- 

lout restraint. I never deserved to be chastised ; 

H)ut, in spite of my usual gentleness, it would have 

been dangerous to have attempted to do so ; and I 

recollect with pleasure that, when I was to describe 

in rhetoric a perfect courser, I sacrificed the hope of 

obtaining a premium, and described the one who, on 

perceiving the whip, threw down his rider. Repub- 

of his regiments of cavalry to the cousin. Madame de Mont- 
boissier thinks this is asking too much, and told M. le Marquis 
de Canillic that, in truth, if he were so difficult, her husband 
would no longer take any part in his affairs ; this offended him, 
and some high words passed on both sides. The nephew does 
not care much about the marriage. He said, there were in his 
own province far better matches, which he named, that would 
not be refused him. 

" I thought I had written you word that the Cardinal de La 
Roche- Aimon was abbe de St. Germain. It is said that M. de 
Briges has the barony de Mercceur. M. de la Vauguyon has 
died, little regretted either by the court or by the town. The 
ball of last Thursday is put off to the 15th, that is to say, for a 
week hence. I dined, the day before yesterday, Thursday, with 
M. de la Tour d'Auvergne, who is on a complimentary footing 
with M. de Turenne, now Duke de Bouillon. He told us he 
should lose perhaps a million from politeness. You will re- 
cognise him by that phrase. 

" Adieu, dear cousin ; my respects, if you please, to all the 
family ; M. de Fayon presents his to you, and I remain your 
obedient servant, 



lican anecdotes always delighted me, and when my 
new connexions wished to obtain for me a place at 
court, I did not hesitate displeasing them to pre- 
serve my independence.* I was in that frame of 
mind when I first learnt the troubles in America ; 
they only became thoroughly, known in Europe in 
1776, and the memorable declaration of the 4th of 
July reached France at the close of that same year. 

After having crowned herself with laurels and"" 
enriched herself with conquests ; after having be- 
come mistress of all seas ; and after having in- 
sulted all nations, England had turned her prid 
against her own colonies. North America ha 
long been displeasing to her ; she wished to add 
new vexations to former injuries, and to destroy 
the most sacred privileges. The Americans, at- 
tached to the mother country, contented them- 
selves at first with merely uttering complaints ; they 
only accused the ministry, and the whole nation 
rose up against them ; they were termed insolent 
and rebellious, and at length declared the enemies 
of their country : thus did the obstinacy of the 
king, the violence of the ministers, and the arro- 
gance of the English nation, oblige thirteen of 
their colonies to render themselves independent. 
Such a glorious cause had never before attracted^ 
the attention of mankind ; it was the last struggle 
of Liberty ; and had she then been vanquished, 

neither hope nor asylum would have remained for 

_~ ^ 

* A place in the household of a prince of royal blood. The 
Marshal de Noailles wished for this arrangement. To prevent 
it without openly opposing the will of those he loved, M. de 
Lafayette took an opportunity of displeasing, by a few words, 
the prince, to whose person they were desirous of attaching 
him, and all negotiations on the subject were thus broken off. 
We do not believe that since that period a reconciliation has 
ever taken place between him and Louis XVIII. 


her. The oppressors and oppressed were to re- 
ceive a powerful lesson ; the great work was to 
be accomplished, or the rights of humanity were 
to fall beneath its ruin. The destiny of France and 
that of her rival were to be decided at the same 
moment ; England was to lose, with the new 
states, an important commerce, of which she de- 
rived the sole advantage, one quarter of her sub- 
jects, who were constantly augmenting by a rapid 
increase of population, and by emigration from all 
parts of Europe, in a word, more than half of the 
most beautiful portion of the British territory. 
But if she retained possession of her thirteen colo- 
nies, all was ended for our West Indies, our pos- 
sessions in Asia and Africa, our maritime com- 
merce, and consequently our navy and our poli- 
tical existence. 

(1776.) When I first learnt the subject of this 
quarrel, my heart espoused warmly the cause of 
liberty, and I thought of nothing but of adding 
also the aid of my banner. * Some circum- 

* In 1828, Mr. Jared Sparks, a distinguished American au- 
thor, intending to form a collection of the writings of Washing- 
ton, which he is at present publishing at Boston, made a voyage 
to France to converse with M. de Lafayette, and consult the 
archives of foreign affairs. He obtained from the general many 
anecdotes, letters, and documents, of which extracts have en- 
riched his publication. At the close of vol. v., he has placed 
an appendix, containing the account of the departure of M. de 
Lafayette from France, and his arrival in America. We doubt 
not but that the details of that narration were related, nay, per- 
haps even written, by the general himself. We shall therefore 
quote some extracts from it without hesitation, which, placed as 
notes, will completely elucidate the text of these memoirs. 

" In the summer of 1776," says Mr. Sparks, " M. de La- 
fayette was stationed on military duty at Metz, being then an 
officer in the French army. It happened at this time that the 
Duke of Gloucester, brother to the King of England, was at 


stances, which it would be needless to relate, had 
taught me to expect only obstacles in this case 
from my own family ; I depended, therefore, solely 
upon myself, and I ventured to adopt for a device 
on my arms these words "Curnon?" that they 
might equally serve as an encouragement to my- 
self, and as a reply to others. Silas Deane was 
then at Paris ; but the ministers feared to receive 
him, and his voice was overpowered by the louder 
accents of Lord Stormont. He despatched pri- 
vately to America some old arms, which were of 
little use, and some young officers, who did but 
little good, the whole directed by M. de Beaumar- 
chais ; and when the English ambassador spoke to 
our court, it denied having sent any cargoes, or- 
dered those that were preparing to be discharged, 
and dismissed from our ports all American pri- 
vateers. Whilst wishing to address myself in a 
direct manner to Mr. Deane, I became the friend of 

Metz, and a dinner was given to him by the commandant of that 
place. Several officers were invited, and among others La- 
fayette. Despatches had just been received by the duke from 
England, and he made their contents the topic of conversation ; 
they related to American affairs, the recent declaration of inde- 
pendence, the resistance of the colonists, and the strong mea- 
sures adopted by the ministry to crush the rebellion. 

" The details were new to Lafayette ; he listened with eager- 
ness to the conversation, and prolonged it by asking questions 
of the duke. His curiosity was deeply excited by what he heard, 
and the idea of a people lighting for liberty had a strong in- 
fluence upon his imagination ; the cause seemed to him just and 
noble, from the representations of the duke himself; and before 
he left the table, the thought came into his head that he would 
go to America, and offer his services to a people who were 
struggling for freedom and independence. From that hour he 
could think of nothing but this chivalrous enterprise. He re- 
solved to return to Paris and make further inquiries. 

" When he arrived in that city, he confided his scheme to two 


Kalb, a German in our employ, who was applying 
for service with the insurgents, (the expression in 
use at that time,) and who became my interpreter. 
He was the person sent by M. de Choiseul to ex- 
amine the English colonies ; and on his return he 
received some money, but never succeeded in ob- 
taining an audience, so little did that minister in 
reality think of the revolution whose retrograde 
movements some persons have inscribed to him ! 
When I presented to Mr. Deane my boyish face, 
(for I was scarcely nineteen years of age,) I spoke 
more of my ardour in the cause than of my expe- 
rience ; buX4^eitjnuch,upon.Jth.e effect my de- 
parture 3 r jiilld_excite in Frangg, and he signed our 
mtftuaT agreement. "Trie secrecy with which this 
negotiation and my preparations were made ap- 
pears almost a miracle ; family, friends, ministers, 
French spies and English spies, all were kept com- 
pletely in the dark as to my intentions. Amongst 

young friends, Count Segur and Viscount de Noailles, and pro- 
posed that they should join him. They entered with enthu- 
siasm into his views ; but as they were dependent on their 
families, it was necessary to consult their parents, who repro- 
bated the plan and refused their consent. The young men 
faithfully kept Lafayette's secret : his situation was more fortu- 
nate, as his property was at his own disposal, and he possessed 
an annual revenue of nearly two hundred thousand livres. 

" He next explained his intentions to the Count de Broglie, 
who told him that his project was so chimerical, and fraught 
with so many hazards, without a prospect of the least advan- 
tage, that he could not for a moment regard it with favor, nor 
encourage him with any advice which should prevent him from 
abandoning it immediately. When Lafayette found him thus 
determined, he requested that at least he would not betray him, 
for he was resolved to go to America. The Count de Broglie 
assured him that his confidence was not misplaced ; ' But,' said 
he, * I have seen your uncle die in the wars of Italy ; I wit- 
nessed your father's death at the battle of Minden ; and I will 


my discreet confidants, I owe much to M. du Bois- 
martin,* secretary o the Count de Broglie, and to 
the Count de Broglie himself, whose affectionate 
heart, when all his efforts to turn me from this 
project had proved in vain, entered into my views 
with even paternal tenderness. 

Preparations were making to send a vessel to 
America, when very bad tidings arrived from 
thence. New York, Long Island, White Plains, 
Fort Washington, and the Jerseys, had seen the 
American forces successively destroyed by thirty- 
three thousand Englishmen or Germans. Three 
thousand Americans alone remained in arms, and 
these were closely pursued by General Howe. 
From that moment all the credit of the insurgents 
vanished ; to obtain a vessel for them was impos- 
sible : the envoys themselves thought it right to 
express to me their own discouragement, and per- 
suade me to abandon my project. I called upon 
Mr. Deane, and I thanked him for his frankness. 
" Until now, sir," said I, " you have only seen my 
ardour in your cause, and that may not prove at 
present wholly useless. I shall purchase a ship to 
carry out your officers ; we must feel confidence 
in the future, and it is especially in the hour of 

not be accessary to the ruin of the only remaining branch of 
the family.' He then used all his powers of argument and 
persuasion to divert Lafayette from his purpose, but in vain. 
Finding his determination unalterable, the Count de Broglie 
said, as he could render him no aid, he would introduce him to 
the Baron de Kalb, who he knew was seeking an opportunity 
to go to America, and whose experience and counsels might be 
valuable. (The Writings of George Washington, vol. v. Ap- 
pendix, No. 1, p. 445.) 

* M. du Boismartin was the person sent to Bourdeaux to se- 
cure the purchase and equipment of the ship that M. de La- 
fayette intended for the United States. (Sparks, loc. cit.) 


danger that I wish to share your fortune."* My 
project was received with approbation ; but it was 
necessary afterwards to find money, and to pur- 
chase and arm a vessel secretly : all this was ac- 
complished with the greatest despatch. 

The period was, however, approaching, which had 
been long fixed for my taking a journey to Eng- 
land;! I could not refuse to go without risking the 
discovery of my secret, and by consenting to take 
this journey I knew I could better conceal my pre- 
parations for a greater one. This last measure was 
also thought most expedient by MM. Franklin 
and Deane ; for the doctor himself was then in 
France ; and although I did not venture to go to 
his home, for fear of being seen, I corresponded 
with him through M. Carmichael, an American less 
generally known. I arrived in London with M. de 
Poix ; and I first paid my respects to Bancroft, the 
American, and afterwards to his British Majesty. 
A youth of nineteen may be, perhaps, too fond of 
playing a trick upon the king he is going to fight 
with, of dancing at the house of Lord Germain, 
minister for the English colonies, and at the house 
of Lord Rawdon, who had just returned from New 
York, and of seeing at the opera that Clinton 
whom he was afterwards to meet at Monmouth. 
But whilst I concealed my intentions, I openly 

* It is a singular coincidence that, at the same time that 
General Washington, who had never left America, reduced to a 
corps of two thousand men, did not despair of the common 
cause, the same sentiment was animating, two thousand leagues 
from thence, the breast of a youth of nineteen, who was des- 
tined to become one day his intimate friend, partake with him 
the vicissitudes and happy termination of that revolution, and 
afterwards carry back to another hemisphere the principles of 
liberty and equality which formed its basis, 
t With the Prince de Poix. This journey lasted three weeks. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 11 

avowed my sentiments ; I often defended the Ame- 
ricans ; I rejoiced at their success at Trenton ; and 
my spirit of opposition obtained for me an invita- 
tion to breakfast with Lord Shelbourne. I refused 
the offers made me to visit the sea ports, the vessels 
fitting out against the rebels, and everything that 
might be construed into an abuse of confidence. 
At the end of three weeks, when it became neces- 
sary for me to return home, whilst refusing my 
uncle,* the ambassador, to accompany him to 
court, I confided to him my strong desire to take a 
trip to Paris. He proposed saying that I was ill 
during my absence. I should not have made use 
of this stratagem myself, but I did not object to 
his doing so. 

After having suffered drea.dfully in the channel, 
and being reminded, as a consolation, how very 
short the voyage would be, I arrived at M. de 
Kalb's house in Paris, concealed myself three days 
at Chaillot, saw a few of my friends and some 
Americans, and set out for Bordeaux, where I was 
for some time unexpectedly delayed. f I took ad- 
vantage of that delay to send to Paris, from whence 
the intelligence I received was by no means encou- 
raging ; but as my messenger was followed on his 

* The Marquis de Noailles, brother to the Duke d'Aven, and 
uncle to Madame de Lafayette. Lafayette learnt, at Bordeaux, that his intended de- 
parture was known at Versailles, and that the order to prevent 
it had been already issued. After having taken his ship to the 
port of the Passage, he returned himself to Bordeaux, and wrote 
to the ministers, to his family and friends. Amongst the latter 
was M. de Coigny, to whom he sent a confidential person, and 
who bade him entertain no hopes of obtaining the permission 
he wished for. Pretending to repair to Marseilles, where he 
had received an order to join his father-in-law, who was going 
into Italy, he set off in a postchaise with an officer named 
Mauroy, who was desirous of going to America. Some leagues 


road by one from the government, I lost not a 
moment in setting sail, and the orders of my sove- 
reign were only able to overtake me at Passage, a 
Spanish port, at which we stopped on our way. 
The letters from my own family were extremely 
violent, and those from the government were 
peremptory. I was forbidden to proceed to the 
American continent under the penalty of disobe- 
dience ; I was enjoined to repair instantly to Mar- 
seilles, and await there further orders. A sufficient 
number of commentaries were not wanting upon 
the consequences of such an anathema, the laws of 
the state, and the power and displeasure of the 
government : but the grief of his wife, who was 
pregnant, and the thoughts of his family and 
friends, had far more effect upon M. de Lafayette.* 
As his vessel could no longer be stopped, he re- 
turned to Bordeaux to enter into a justification of 
his own conduct ; and, in a declaration to M. de 
Fumel, he took upon himself all the consequences 
of his present evasion. As the court did not deign 
to relax in its determination, he wrote to M. de 
Maurepas that that silence was a tacit consent, and 
his own departure took place soon after that joking 

from Bordeaux he got on horseback, disguised as a courier, and 
rode on before the carriage, which took the road to Bayonne. 
They remained two or three hours in that town, and whilst 
Mauroy was arranging some necessary affairs, M. de Lafayette 
remained lying on some straw in the stable. It was the post- 
master's daughter who recognised the pretended courier at 
Saint Jean de Luz, from having seen him when returning from 
the Passage harbour to Bordeaux. (Sparks, loc. cit.) 

* These memoirs, written until now in the first person, change 
here to the third person, in spite of the kind of engagement 
taken in the first page to continue them in the former manner. 
We are ignorant of the cause of the inconsistency thus offered 
by the manuscript, which is, however, completely written in the 
general's own hand. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 13 

despatch. After having set out on the road to 
Marseilles, he retraced his steps, and, disguised as 
a courier, he had almost escaped all danger, when, 
at Saint Jean de Luz, a young girl recognised him ; 
but a sign from him silenced her, and her adroit 
fidelity turned away all suspicion. It was thus 
that M. de Lafayette rejoined his ship, the 26th of 
April 1777 ; and on that same day, after six months 
anxiety and labour, he set sail for the American 

(1777.) As soon as M. de Lafayette had recover- 
ed from the effects of sea sickness, he studied the 
language and trade he was adopting. A heavy 
ship, two bad cannons, and some guns, could not 
have escaped from the smallest privateer. In his 
present situation, he resolved rather to blow up 
the vessel than to surrender ; he concerted mea- 
sures to achieve this end with a brave Dutchman 
named Bedaulx, whose sole alternative, if taken, 
would have been the gibbet. The captain insisted 
upon stopping at the islands ; but government 
orders would have been found there, and he fol- 
lowed a direct course, less from choice than from 
compulsion. f At forty leagues from shore, they 
were met by a small vessel : the captain turned 

* See, at the end of these memoirs, amongst the various frag- 
ments, fragment A. 

f The court of France despatched orders to the Leeward and 
Windward Islands to stop him on his road, because the ship, not 
being able to take out papers for North America, was to have 
stopped in the Spanish islands. (Manuscript No. 1.) Mr* 
Sparks relates that M. de Lafayette declared to the captain that 
the ship belonged to him, and that if he offered the slightest 
resistance, he would take from him the command and give it to 
the mate. But as he soon discovered that the real motive of 
the captain's resistance was a cargo belonging to him of 8000 
dollars, M. de Lafayette secured to him its full value upon his 
own private fortune, and thus succeeded in overcoming all his 
scruples. ^Washington's writings, lot. cit.) 


pale, but the crew were attached to M. de Lafay- 
ette, and the officers were numerous : they made a 
.show of resistance. It turned out, fortunately, to 
be an American ship, whom they vainly endea- 
voured to keep up with ; but scarcely had the 
former lost sight of M. de Lafayette's vessel, when 
it fell in with two English frigates, and this is 
not the only time when the elements seemed bent 
on opposing M. de Lafayette, as if with the inten- 
tion of saving him. After having encountered for 
seven weeks various perils and chances, he arrived 
at Georgetown, in Carolina. Ascending the river 
in a canoe, his foot touched at length the American 
soil, and he swore that he would conquer or perish 
in that cause. Landing at midnight at Major 
Huger's house,* he found a vessel sailing for 
France, which appeared only waiting for his letters. 
Several of the officers landed, others remained on 
board, and all hastened to proceed to Charlestown. 
This beautiful city is worthy of its inhabitants, 
and everything there announced not only comfort 
but even luxury. Without knowing much of M. 
de Lafayette, the generals Howe,f Moultrie, and 

* When they landed, says Mr. Sparks, a distant light served 
to guide them. As they approached the house from whence it 
issued, the dogs barked, and the people took them for a band 
of marauders landing from an enemy's ship. They were asked 
who they were, and what they wanted. Baron Kalb replied, 
and all suspicions vanished. The next morning the weather 
was beautiful. The novelty of all that surrounded him, the 
room, the bed covered with mosquito nets, the black servants 
who came to ask his commands, the beauty and foreign aspect 
of the country which he beheld from his windows, and which 
was covered by a rich vegetation, all united to produce on M. 
de Lafayette a magical effect, and excite in him a variety of 
inexpressible sensations. (Sparks, appendix.) 

t An American, who must not be confounded with the two 
brothers of that name who commanded the one the English 
army, the other the English fleet. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 15 

Gulden, received him with the utmost kindness 
and attention. The new works were shewn him, 
and also that hattery which Moultrie afterwards 
defended so extremely well, and which the English 
appear, we must acknowledge, to have seized the 
only possible means of destroying. Several adven- 
turers, the refuse of the islands, endeavoured vainly 
to unite themselves to M. de Lafayette, and to 
infuse into his mind their own feelings and pre- 
judices. Having procured horses, he set out with 
six officers for Philadelphia. His vessel had arrived, 
but it was no longer protected by fortune, and on 
its return home it was lost on the bar of Charles- 
town. To repair to the congress of the United 
States, M. de Lafayette rode nearly nine hundred 
miles on horseback ; before reaching the capital of 
Pennsylvania, he was obliged to travel through the 
two Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. 
Whilst studying the language and customs of the 
inhabitants, he observed also new productions of 
nature, and new methods of cultivation : vast 
forests and immense rivers combine to give to that 
country an appearance of youth and majesty. 
After a fatiguing journey of one month, he beheld 
at length that Philadelphia, so well known in the 
present day, and whose future grandeur Penn ap- 
peared to designate when he laid the first stone of 
its foundation. 

After having accomplished his noble manoeuvres 
at Trenton and Princetown, General Washington 
had remained in his camp at Middlebrook. The 
English, finding themselves frustrated in their first 
hopes, combined to make a decisive campaign. 
Burgoyne was already advancing with ten thousand 
men, preceded by his proclamations and his sa- 
vages. Ticonderoga, a famous stand of arms, was 


abandoned by Saint-Glair ; he drew upon himself 
much public odium by this deed, but he saved the 
only corps whom the militia could rally round. 
Whilst the generals were busied assembling that 
militia, the congress recalled them, sent Gates in 
their place, and used all possible means to support 
him. At that same time the great English army, 
of about eighteen thousand men, had sailed from 
New York, and the two Howes were uniting their 
forces for a secret enterprise ; Rhode Island was 
occupied by an hostile corps, and General Clinton, 
who had remained at New York, was there prepar- 
ing for an expedition. To be able to withstand so 
many various blows, General Washington, leaving 
Putnam on the north river, crossed over the Dela- 
ware, and encamped, with eleven thousand men, 
within reach of Philadelphia. 

Tt was under these circumstances that M. de 
Lafayette first arrived in America ; but the moment, 
although important to the common cause, was 
peculiarly unfavourable to strangers. The Ame- 
ricans were displeased with the pretensions, and 
disgusted with the conduct, of many Frenchmen ; 
the imprudent selections they had in some cases 
made, the extreme boldness of some foreign adven- 
turers, the jealousy of the army, and strong na- 
tional prejudices, all contributed to confound dis- 
interested zeal with private ambition, and talents 
with quackery. Supported by the promises which 
had been given by Mr. Deane, a numerous band of 
foreigners besieged the congress ; their chief was 
a clever but very imprudent man, and although a 
good officer, his excessive vanity amounted almost 
to madness. With M. de Lafayette, Mr. Deane 
had sent out a fresh detachment, and every day 
such crowds arrived, that the congress had finally 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 17 

adopted the plan of not listening to any stranger. 
The coldness with which M. de Lafayette was re- 
ceived, might have been taken as a dismissal ; but, 
without appearing disconcerted by the manner in 
which the deputies addressed him,* he entreated 
them to return to congress, and read the following 
note : 

" After the sacrifices I have made, I have the 
right to exact two favours : one is, to serve at my 
own expense, the other is, to serve at first as vo- 

This style, to which they were so little accus- 
tomed, awakened their attention ; the despatches 
from the envoys were read over, and, in a very flat- 
tering resolution, the rank of major-general was 
granted to M. de Lafayette. Amongst the various 
officers who accompanied him, several were strangers 
to him ; he was interested, however, for them all, 
and to those whose services were not accepted an 
indemnity for their trouble was granted. Some 
months afterwards, M. drowned himself in 

* When he arrived at Philadelphia, M. de Lafayette delivered 
his letters to Mr. Lovell, president of the committee for foreign 
affairs. The next day he proceeded to congress : Mr. Lovell 
came out of the meeting, and told him there was but little hope 
of his request being acceded to. Suspecting that his letters had 
not been read, M. de Lafayette wrote the note which will be 
found in the text. The resolution of the congress concerning 
him, deliberated the 31st of July, is expressed in the following 
manner : " Seeing that the Marquis de Lafayette, on account 
of his great zeal in the cause of liberty in which the United 
States are engaged, has quitted his family and country, and has 
come to offer his services to the United States, without demand- 
ing either pay or private indemnity, and that he desires to ex- 
pose his life in our cause, resolved, that his services be 
accepted, and that, on account of his zeal, illustrious family 
and connexions, he shall have the rank and commission of 
major-general in the army of the United States." The real 



the Schuylkill, and the loss of that impetuous and 
imprudent man was perhaps a fortunate circum- 

The two Howes having appeared before the capes 
of the Delaware, General Washington came to 
Philadelphia, and M. de Lafayette beheld for the 
first time that great man.* Although he was sur- 
rounded by officers and citizens, it was impossible 
to mistake for a moment his majestic figure and 
deportment ; nor was he less distinguished by the 
noble affability of his manner. M. de Lafayette 
accompanied him in his examination of the fortifi- 
cations. Invited by the General to establish himself 
in his house, he looked upon it from that moment 
as his own : with this perfect ease and simplicity 
was formed the tie that united two friends, whose 
confidence and attachment were to be cemented by 
the strongest interests of humanity. f 

The American army, stationed some miles from 
Philadelphia, was waiting until the movements of 
the hostile army should be decided : the General 

intention of this resolution was to give a rank to M. de La- 
fayette, and to leave to General Washington the right and care 
of confiding to him a command in unison with that rank. 
(Letters of Washington, 2nd part. V, p. 10, 35, and 128, and 
appendix No. I.) 

* He was presented, for the first time, to Washington, says 
Mr. Sparks, at a dinner, at which several members of congress 
were present. When they were separating, Washington drew 
Lafayette aside, expressed much kindness for him, complimented 
him upon his zeal and his sacrifices, and invited him to con- 
sider the head quarters as his own house, adding, with a smile, 
that he could not promise him the luxuries of a court, but that, 
as he was become an American soldier, he would doubtless 
submit cheerfully to the customs and privations of a republican 
army. The next day Washington visited the forts of the 
Delaware, and invited Lafayette to accompany him. (Sparks, 
ibid.) t See fragment B. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 19 

himself reviewed the troops ; M. de Lafayette 
arrived there the same day. Ahout eleven thou- 
sand men, ill armed, and still worse clothed, pre- 
sented a strange spectacle to the eye of the young 
Frenchman : their clothes were parti-coloured, and 
many of them were almost naked; the best clad 
wore hunting shirts, large grey linen coats which 
were much used in Carolina. As to their military 
tactics, it will be sufficient to say that, for a regi- 
ment ranged in order of battle to move forward on 
the right of its line, it was necessary for the left to 
make a continued counter march. They were 
always arranged in two lines, the smallest men in 
the first line ; no other distinction as to height was 
ever observed. In spite of these disadvantages, the 
soldiers were fine, and the officers zealous ; virtue 
stood in place of science, and each day added both 
to experience and discipline. Lord Stirling, more 
courageous than judicious, another general, who was 
often intoxicated, and Greene, whose talents were 
only then known to his immediate friends, com- 
manded as majors-general. General Knox, who had 
changed the profession of bookseller to that of 
artillery officer, was there also, and had himself 
formed other officers, and created an artillery. 
"We must feel embarrassed," said General Wash- 
ington, on his arrival, " to exhibit ourselves before 
an officer who has just quitted French troops." " It 
is to learn, and not to teach, that I come hither," re- 
plied M. de Lafayette ; and that modest tone, which 
was not common in Europeans, produced a very 
good effect. 

After having menaced the Delaware, the English 
fleet again disappeared, and during some days the 
Americans amused themselves by making jokes at 
its expense. These jokes, however, ceased when it 

c 2 


reappeared in the Chesapeak ; and, in order to ap- 
proach it more closely during the disembarkation, the 
patriot army crossed through the town. Their heads 
covered with green branches, and marching to the 
sound of drums and fifes, these soldiers, in spite of 
their state of nudity, offered an agreeable spectacle 
to the eyes of all the citizens. General Washington 
was marching at their head, and M. de Lafayette was 
by his side. The army stationed itself upon the 
heights of Wilmington, and that of the enemy landed 
in the Elk river, at the bottom of Chesapeak bay. 
The very day they landed, General Washington ex- 
posed himself to danger in the most imprudent 
manner ; after having reconnoitred for a long time 
the enemy's position, he was overtaken by a storm 
during a very dark night, entered a farm house close 
to the hostile army, and, from a reluctance to change 
his own opinion, remained there with General 
Greene, M. de Lafayette, and their aide-de-camp ; 
but when at day break he quitted the farm, he ac- 
knowledged that any one traitor might have caused 
his ruin. Some days later, Sullivan's division 
joined the army, which augmented it in all to 
thirteen thousand men. This Major- General Sul- 
livan made a good beginning, but a bad ending, in 
an intended surprise on Staten Island. 

If, by making too extensive a plan of attack, the 
English committed a great error, it must also be 
acknowledged that the Americans were not irre- 
proachable in their manner of defence. Burgoyne, 
leading his army, with their heads bent upon the 
ground, into woods from whence he could not ex- 
tricate them, dragged on, upon a single road, his 
numerous cannons and rich military equipages. 
Certain of not being attacked from behind, the 
Americans could dispute every step they took : this 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 21 

kind of warfare attracted the militia, and Gates im- 
proved each day in strength. Every tree sheltered 
a skilful rifleman, and the resources offered by mili- 
tary tactics, and the talents even of their chiefs, had 
become useless to the English. The corps left in 
New York could, it is true, laugh at the corps of 
Putnam, but it was too feeble to succour Bur- 
goyne ; and instead of being able to secure his 
triumph, its own fate was even dependent upon his. 
During that time, Howe was only thinking of Phila- 
delphia, and it was at the expense of the northern 
expedition that he was repairing thither by an 
enormous circuit. But, on the other side, why w r ere 
the English permitted to land so tranquilly ? Why 
was the moment aUowed to pass when their army 
was divided by the river Elk ? Why in the south 
were so many false movements and so much hesita- 
tion displayed ? Because the Americans had hitherto 
had combats but not battles ; because, instead of 
harassing an army and disputing hollows, they were 
obliged to protect an open city, and manoeuvre in a 
plain, close to an hostile army, who, by attacking 
them from behind, might completely ruin them. 
General Washington, had he followed the advice of 
the people, would have enclosed his army in a city, 
and thus have entrusted to one hazard the fate of 
America ; but, whilst refusing to commit such an 
act of folly, he was obliged to make some sacrifice, 
and gratify the nation by a battle. Europe even 
expected it ; and although he had been created a 
dictator for six months, the General thought he 
ought to submit everything to the orders of con- 
gress, and to the deliberations of a council of war. 

After having advanced as far as Wilmington, the 
general had detached a thousand men under Max- 
well, the most ancient brigadier in the army. At 


the first march of the English, he was beaten hy 
their advance guard near Christiana Bridge. Dur- 
ing that time the army took but an indifferent sta- 
tion at Newport ; they then removed a little south, 
waited two days for the enemy, and, at the moment 
when these were marching upon their right wing, a 
nocturnal council of war decided that the army was 
to proceed to the Brandywine. The stream bearing 
that name covered its front ; the ford called Chad's 
Ford, placed nearly in the centre, was defended by 
batteries. It was in that hardly examined station 
that, in obedience to a letter from congress, the 
Americans awaited the battle. The evening of the 
10th of September, Howe advanced in two co- 
lumns, and, by a very fine movement, the left column 
(about 8000 men under Lord Cornwallis, with the 
grenadiers and guards) directed themselves towards 
the fords of Birmingham, three miles on our right ; 
the other column continued its road, and about 
nine o'clock in the morning it appeared on the 
other side of the stream. The enemy was so near 
the skirts of the wood that it was impossible to 
judge of his force ; some time was lost in a mutual 
cannonading. General Washington walked along 
his two lines, and was received with acclamations 
which seemed to promise him success. The intel- 
ligence that was received of the movements of Corn- 
wallis was both confused and contradictory; owing 
to the conformity of name betwixt two roads that 
were of equal length and parallel to each other, the 
best officers were mistaken in their reports. The 
only musket shots that had been fired were from 
Maxwell, who killed several of the enemy, but was 
driven back upon the left of the American army, 
across a ford by which he had before advanced. 
Three thousand militia had been added to the 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 23 

army, but they were placed in the rear to guard 
some still more distant militia, and took no part 
themselves in the action. Such was the situation 
of the troops when they learnt the march of Lord 
Cornwallis towards the scarcely known fords of 
Birmingham : they then detached three divisions, 
forming about five thousand men, under the generals 
Sullivan, Stirling, and Stephen. M. de Lafayette, 
as volunteer, had always accompanied the general. 
The left wing remaining in a state of tranquillity, 
and the right appearing fated to receive all the 
heavy blows, he obtained permission to join Sul- 
livan. At his arrival, which seemed to inspirit 
the troops, he found that, the enemy having crossed 
the ford, the corps of Sullivan had scarcely had time 
to form itself on a line in front of a thinly -wooded 
forest. A few moments after, Lord Cornwallis 
formed in the finest order : advancing across the 
plain, his first line opened a brisk fire of mus- 
ketry and artillery ; the Americans returned the 
fire, and did much injury to the enemy ; but their 
right and left wings having given way, the generals 
and several officers joined the central division, 
in which were M. de Lafayette and Stirling, and 
of which eight hundred men were commanded 
in a most brilliant manner by Conway, an Irish- 
man, in the service of France. By separating that 
division from its two wings, and advancing through 
an open plain, in which they lost many men, the 
enemy united all his fire upon the centre : the con- 
fusion became extreme ; and it was whilst M. de 
Lafayette was rallying the troops that a ball passed 
through his leg ; at that moment all those remain- 
ing on the field gave way. M. de Lafayette was in- 
debted to Gimat, his aide-de-camp, for the happiness 
of getting upon his horse. General Washington ar- 


rived from a distance with fresh troops ; M. de La- 
fayette was preparing to join him, when loss of blood 
obliged him to stop and have his wound bandaged ; 
he was even very near being taken. Fugitives, 
cannon, and baggage now crowded without order 
into the road leading to Chester. The general em- 
ployed the remaining daylight in checking the 
enemy : some regiments behaved extremely well, 
but the disorder was complete. During that time 
the ford of Chad was forced, the cannon taken, 
and the Chester road became the common retreat of 
the whole army. In the midst of that dreadful con- 
fusion, and during the darkness of the night, it was 
impossible to recover ; but at Chester, twelve miles 
from the field of battle, they met with a bridge 
which it was necessary to cross ; M. de Lafayette 
occupied himself in arresting the fugitives ; some 
degree of order was re-established ; the generals and 
the commander-in-chief arrived; and he had leisure 
to have his wound dressed. 

It was thus, at twenty-six miles from Philadel- 
phia, that the fate of that town was decided, (llth 
September, 1777.) The inhabitants had heard every 
cannon that was fired there ; the two parties, as- 
sembled in two distinct bands in all the squares and 
public places, had awaited the event in silence. The 
last courier at length arrived, and the friends of 
liberty were thrown into consternation. The Ame- 
ricans had lost from 1000 to 1200 men. Howe's 
army was composed of about 12,000 men ; their 
losses had been so considerable that their surgeons, 
and those in the country, were found insufficient, and 
they requested the American army to supply them 
with some for their prisoners. If the enemy had 
marched to Derby, the army would have been cut 
up and destroyed: they lost an all-important night; 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 25 

and this was perhaps their greatest fault, during a 
war in which they committed so many errors. 

M. de Lafayette, having been conveyed by water 
to Philadelphia, was carefully attended to by the 
citizens, who were all interested in his situation and 
extreme youth. That same evening the congress 
determined to quit the city : a vast number of the 
inhabitants deserted their own hearths whole fa- 
milies, abandoning their possessions, and uncertain 
of the future, took refuge in the mountains. M. de 
Lafayette was carried to Bristol in a boat ; he there 
saw the fugitive congress, who only assembled again 
on the other side of the Susquehannah ; he was 
himself conducted to Bethlehem, a Moravian esta- 
blishment, where the mild religion of the brother- 
hood, the community of fortune, education, and in- 
terests, amongst that large and simple family , formed 
a striking contrast to scenes of blood, and the con- 
vulsions occasioned by a civil war. 

After the Brandywine defeat, the two armies 
manceuvered along the banks of the Schuylkill. 
General Washington still remained on a height 
above the enemy, and completely out of his reach ; 
nor had they again an opportunity of cutting 
him off. Waine, an American brigadier, was de- 
tached to observe the English ; but, being surprised 
during the night, near the White-Horse, by General 
Grey, he lost there the greatest part of his corps. 
At length Howe crossed the Schuylkill at Swede's 
Ford, and Lord Cornwallis entered Philadelphia. 

In spite of the declaration of independence of the 
New States, everything there bore the appearance 
of a civil war. The names of Whig and Tory dis- 
tinguished the republicans and royalists ; the En- 
glish army was still called the regular troops ; the 
British sovereign was always designated by the name 


of the king. Provinces, towns, and families were 
divided by the violence of party spirit: brothers, 
officers in the two opposing armies, meeting 
by chance in their father's house, have seized 
their arms to fight with each other. Whilst, in all 
the rancour of their pride, the English committed 
horrible acts of licence and cruelty, whilst disci- 
pline dragged in her train those venal Germans who 
knew only how to kill, burn, and pillage, in that 
same army were seen regiments of Americans, who, 
trampling under foot their brethren, assisted in en- 
slaving their wasted country. Each canton con- 
tained a still greater number whose sole object was 
to injure the friends of liberty, and give information 
to those of despotism. To these inveterate Tories 
must be added the number of those whom fear, pri- 
vate interest, or religion, rendered adverse to the 
war. If the Presbyterians, the children of Crom- 
well and Fairfax, detested royalty, the Lutherans, 
who had sprung from it, were divided among them- 
selves : the Quakers hated slaughter, but served 
willingly as guides to the royal troops. Insurrec- 
tions were by no means uncommon : near the ene- 
my's stations, farmers often shot each other ; robbers 
were even encouraged. The republican chiefs were 
exposed to great dangers when they travelled through 
the country ; it was always necessary for them to 
declare that they should pass the night in one house, 
then take possession of another, barricade themselves 
in it, and only sleep with their arms by their side. In 
the midst of these troubles, M. de Lafayette was no 
longer considered as a stranger ; never was any adop- 
tion more complete than his own : and whilst, in the 
councils of war, he trembled when he considered that 
his voice (at twenty years of age) might decide the 
fate of two worlds, he was also initiated in those de- 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 27 

liberations in which, by reassuring the Whigs, inti- 
midating the Tories, supporting an ideal money, and 
redoubling their firmness in the hour of adversity, 
the American chiefs conducted that revolution 
through so many obstacles. 

Confined to his bed for six weeks, M. de Lafay- 
ette suffered from his wound, but still more severely 
from his inactivity. The good Moravian brothers 
loved him, and deplored his warlike folly. Whilst 
listening to their sermons, he planned setting Europe 
and Asia in a flame. As he was no longer able to 
do anything but write, he wrote to the commander 
of la Martinique, and proposed to him to make a 
descent upon the English islands under American 
colours. He wrote also to M. de Maurepas, and 
offered to conduct some Americans to the Isle of 
France, concerting previously with individuals an 
attack upon the English factories.* From the par- 
ticulars which have since become known, that pro- 
ject in India would have succeeded ; but it was re- 
jected at Versailles, where no answers were yet 
vouchsafed to M. de Lafayette's letters. Bouille, 
more ardent in temper, would have adopted the 
whole plan, but he could not act without permission ; 

* From Bethlehem he wrote to M. de Bouille, governor of 
the Windward Islands, to propose to him to attack the English 
islands under American colours. That general approved of the 
project, and forwarded it to the court, who would not, however, 
accept it. At the same period, M. de Lafayette, although in 
disgrace himself at court, wrote to the Count de Maurepas, to 
propose to him a still more important enterprise against the 
English factories, but also under American colours. The old 
minister, from prudential motives, did not adopt this project, 
but he spoke publicly in praise of it, and expressed, ever after, 
a great partiality for Lafayette. " He will end, one day," said 
he, smiling, " by unfurnishing the palace of Versailles to serve the 
American cause ; for when he has taken anything into his head, 
it is impossible to resist him." (Note by M. de Lafayette.) 


and these delays led to the period of the war which 
M. de Lafayette was so desirous of bringing on. 

During his residence at Bethlehem, the English 
entrenched themselves at Philadelphia. The two 
rivers which encompassed the town were united by a 
chain of wooden palisades and good redoubts, partly 
covered by an inundation. A portion of their army 
was encamped at German town, five miles in advance 
of those lines ; these were attacked, the 4th of 
October, by Washington, and although his left 
column was retarded by an absurd precedence of di- 
visions, and misled by a thick fog, although the 
advance guard of the right, under Conway, attacked 
in front what it ought to have attacked in flank, the 
enemy was not less taken by surprise and beaten ; 
and the general, with his victorious wing, passed 
through the whole extent of the enemy's encamp- 
ment. All things went on well until then; but a 
false movement of the left column, and still more 
the attack of a stone house which they should have 
turned, gave the enemy time to rally. Howe 
was thinking of a retreat, but Cornwallis arrived 
in haste with a reinforcement. The Americans 
repassed through the English encampment, and 
the action ended by a complete defeat. Many 
men were lost on both sides. General Agnew, an 
Englishman, and General Nash, an American, were 
killed. The Americans had some dragoons under 
Pulaski, the only one of the confederated Poles 
who had refused to accept a pardon. He was an 
intrepid knight, a libertine and devotee, and a 
better captain than general; he insisted on being 
a Pole on all occasions, and M. de Lafayette, after 
having contributed to his reception in the army, 
often exerted himself to effect a reconciliation be- 
twixt him and the other officers. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 29 

Without waiting for his wound to be closed, M. 
de Lafayette returned to head-quarters, twenty-five 
miles from Philadelphia. The enemy, who had 
fallen back upon their lines, attacked Fort Mifflin, 
upon an island, and Fort Red-Bank, on the left 
side of the Delaware. Some chevaux de frise, pro- 
tected by the forts, and some galleys, stopped the 
fleet, magazines, and detachments which had been 
sent from the Chesapeak. Amongst the skirmishes 
which took place betwixt small parties of soldiers, 
the most remarkable one was the surprise of a corps 
of militia at Cevoked-Billet,* in which the English 
burnt their wounded prisoners in a barn. Such 
was the situation of the south, when news was re- 
ceived of the capitulation of Burgoyne. That gene- 
ral, when he quitted Canada, had made a diversion 
on his right ; but Saint Leger had failed in an opera- 
tion against Fort Schuyler ; and he himself, by 
advancing towards Albany, appeared to have lost 
much time. Gates was constantly adding numerous 
militia to his continental troops. All the citizens 
being armed militia, a signal of alarm assembled 
them, or an order of state summoned them to 
march. But if that crusade was rather a voluntary 
one, their residence at the camp was still more de- 
pendent on their own inclination : the discipline 
was suitable to the formation of the corps. The 
continentalists, on the contrary, belonged to the 
thirteen states, of which each one supplied 
some regiments ; the soldiers were either engaged 
for the war or for three years, which improper 
alternative was occasioned by republican jealousy. 
These regular troops had military regulations, a 
severe discipline, and the officers of each state vied 

* This name is very illegible in the manuscript. 


with each other for promotion. Gates, placed in 
an entrenched position, in the centre of woods, on 
the road to Albany, and with the North river on his 
right, had assembled sixteen thousand men ; and 
this invasion of the enemy, by threatening New 
England, had served as an instant summons to her 
brave militia. They had already proved their 
strength at Bennington, where Stark had sur- 
rounded and destroyed a detachment belonging to 
Burgoyne. The enemy, having arrived within 
three miles of Gates, and not being able to make a 
circuit round him without abandoning their cannon 
and military accoutrements, attempted twice to 
force him; but they had scarcely commenced their 
march when Arnold fell upon them with his divi- 
sion, and in those woods, lined with sharpshooters, it 
was only possible for them to reach the entrench- 
ments. Arnold had his leg broken at the second 
affair ; Lincoln, the other major-general, was wound- 
ed also. Four thousand men, who embarked at 
New York, had, it is true, ascended the Hudson. 
Whilst Vaughan was needlessly burning Esopus, 
Clinton had taken all the forts that defended the 
river. They were but little annoyed by Putnam, 
who, in the first breaking out of the troubles, had 
thrown aside his plough to bear to the army far 
more zeal than talent. But still that diversion was 
too weak ; and by a note which a spy who had been 
taken swallowed, but which was recovered by an 
emetic, it was seen that Clinton was aware of his 
own weakness. Burgoyne, abandoned by the 
savages, regretting his best soldiers, and Frazer 
his best general, reduced to five thousand men, 
who were in want of provisions, wished to retreat ; 
but it was then too late : his communications were 
no longer open ; and it was at Saratoga, some miles 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 31 

in the rear of his army, that he signed the cele- 
brated convention. A brilliant troop, covered with 
gold, filed out with Burgoyne : they encountered 
Gates and his officers, all clothed in plain grey 
cloth. After a frugal repast, the two generals 
beheld the conquered army filing out; and, as a 
member of parliament said, "five thousand men 
crossed the rebel country to take up their winter quar- 
ters near Boston" Clinton then redescended to 
New York, and the militia returned to their do- 
mestic hearths. Gates' chief merit consisted in his 
skilful choice of a position ; Burgoyne's misfortune 
was owing to the nature of the country, which was 
impracticable and almost a desert. If the enemies 
of the former criticised the terms of the convention, 
M. de Lafayette loudly proclaimed how glorious he 
thought it ; but he blamed Gates afterwards for ren- 
dering himself independent of his general, and for 
retaining the troops which he ought to have sent 
him. To obtain them, it was necessary to despatch 
Hamilton, a young man of great talents, whose 
counsels had justly acquired much credit.* 

The forts of the Delaware had not yet yielded : 
that of Red-Bank, defended by four hundred men, 
was attacked, sword in hand, by sixteen hundred 
Hessians. The work having been reduced by 
Mauduit, a young Frenchman, the enemy engaged 
betwixt the old and new entrenchments. They 
were driven back with the loss of seven hundred 
men and Count Donop, their chief, whose last 
words were " I die the victim of my own ambition, 
and the avarice of my sovereign." That fort was com- 
manded by an old and respected colonel, Greene, 

* The celebrated Alexander Hamilton, one of the authors of 
the Federalist. 


who, three years after, was massacred hy the English, 
to whom he had surrendered, whilst, covering him 
with his own body, an old negro perished heroically 
by his side. Fort Miiflin, although attacked by land 
and water, did not defend itself less valiantly ; the 
Augusta, an English ship of the line, had been 
already blown up ; a frigate also perished ; and 
Colonel Smith did not even think of surrendering : 
but the island being attacked from an unknown 
passage, the works were assaulted from the rear, 
and were obliged to be evacuated. Lord Corn- 
wallis and five thousand men having fallen upon the 
Jerseys, it became also necessary to quit Red-Bank, 
which the Americans blew up before leaving it : 
General Greene, crossing the river at Trenton, 
opposed, with a precisely equal force, the detachment 
of Cornwallis. 

Although M. de Lafayette's wound was not yet 
sufficiently closed for him to put on a boot, he 
accompanied Greene to Mount Holly ; and detaching 
himself in order to reconnoitre, he found the enemy, 
November 25th, at Gloucester, opposite Phila- 
delphia. The booty they had collected was crossing 
the river. To assure himself more fully on this point, 
M. de Lafayette advanced upon the strip of land 
called Sandy Point, and for this imprudence he 
would have paid dearly if those who had the power 
of killing him had not depended too much on those 
who had the power of taking him prisoner. After 
having succeeded in somewhat appeasing the terror 
of his guides, he found himself, about four o'clock, 
two miles from the English camp, before a post of 
four hundred Hessians with their cannon. Having 
only three hundred and fifty men, most of them 
militia, he suddenly attacked the enemy, who gave 
way before him. Lord Cornwallis came up with his 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 33 

grenadiers ; but, supposing himself to be engaged 
with the corps of General Greene, he allowed 
himself to be driven back to the neighbour- 
hood of Gloucester, with a loss of about sixty 
men. Greene arrived in the night, but would not 
attack the enemy. Lord Cornwallis passed over 
the river, and the American detachment rejoined 
the army at its station at Whitemarsh, twelve miles 
from Philadelphia. It had occupied, since the last 
month, some excellent heights ; the general's accu- 
rate glance had discerned the situation of the en- 
campment through an almost impenetrable wood. 

The slight success of Gloucester gratified the 
army, and especially the militia. The congress 
resolved, that " it would be extremely agreeable to 
them to see the Marquis de Lafayette at the head of 
a division."* He quitted, therefore, his situation 
of volunteer, and succeeded Stephen in the command 
of the Virginians. The junction of Cornwallis 
having been the work of some hours, and that of 
Greene requiring several marches, it is difficult to 
imagine why Howe gave him time to arrive, and 
only proceeded with his army on the 5th of Decem- 
ber to Chesnut Hill, three miles from Whitemarsh. 
After having felt his way with the right wing, of 
which he stood in some awe, he threatened to attack 
the extreme left ; and that wing, following his own 
movements, stationed itself on the declivity of the 
heights. Some shots were exchanged betwixt the 
English light horsemen and the American riflemen, 
very skilful carabineers, who inhabit the frontiers of 
the savage tribes. Not being able to attack that posi- 
tion, and not wishing to make the circuit of it, Howe 
returned, on the fourth day, to Philadelphia. In 

* Journal of Congress, 1st December, 1777. 
VOL. I. D 


spite of the northern reinforcements, the Americans 
were reduced to nine thousand, and the advanced 
season diminished their numbers rapidly. The 
protection of the country had cost the army dear. 
The 15th of December they marched towards 
Swedes' Ford, where Lord Cornwallis was accident- 
ally foraging on the other side of the river. M. 
de Lafayette, being upon duty, was examining a 
position, when his escort and the enemy fired 
upon each other. The uncertainty being mutual, 
Lord Cornwallis and General Washington suspended 
their march ; the former having retired during the 
night, the army crossed over the Schuylkill, and en- 
trenched itself in the station of Valley-Forge, twenty- 
two miles from Philadelphia. Having skilfully 
erected there, in a few days, a city of wooden huts, 
the army established itself in its melancholy winter 
quarters. A small corps was detached to Wilming- 
ton, and fortified itself, under the command of 
Brigadier-General Smallwood. 

Notwithstanding the success in the north, the situ- 
ation of the Americans had never been more critical 
than at the present moment. A paper money, with- 
out any certain foundation, and unmixed with any 
specie, was both counterfeited by the enemy and 
discredited by their partizans. They feared to 
establish taxes, and had still less the power of levy- 
ing them. The people, who had risen against the 
taxation of England, ^ere astonished at paying still 
heavier taxes now ; and the government was with- 
out any power to enforce them. On the other side, 
New York and Philadelphia were overstocked with 
gold and various merchandizes ; the threatened 
penalty of death could not stop a communication 
that was but too easy. To refuse the payment of 
taxes, to depreciate the paper currency, and feed 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 35 

the enemy, was a certain method of attaining 
wealth ; privations and misery were only experi- 
enced by good citizens. Each proclamation of the 
English was supported by their seductions, their 
riches, and the intrigues of the Tories. Whilst a 
numerous garrison lived sumptuously at New York, 
some hundreds of men, ill-clothed and ill-fed, wan- 
dered upon the shores of the Hudson. The army 
of Philadelphia, freshly recruited from Europe, 
abundantly supplied with everything they could 
require, consisted of eighteen thousand men : that 
of Valley-Forge was successively reduced to five 
thousand men ; and two marches on the fine Lan- 
caster road, (on which road also was a chain of 
magazines,) by establishing the English in the rear of 
their right flank, would have rendered their position 
untenable ; from which, however, they had no means 
of retiring. The unfortunate soldiers were in want of 
everything; they had neither coats, hats, shirts, nor 
shoes ; their feet and legs froze till they became black, 
and it was often necessary to amputate them. From 
want of money, they could neither obtain provisions 
nor any means of transport ; the colonels were 
often reduced to two rations, and sometimes even 
to one. The army frequently remained whole days 
without provisions, and the patient endurance of 
both soldiers and officers was a miracle which each 
moment served to renew. But the sight of their 
misery prevented new engagements : it was almost 
impossible to levy recruits ; it was easy to desert 
into the interior of the country. The sacred fire of 
liberty was not extinguished, it is true, and the ma- 
jority of the citizens detested British tyranny ; but 
the triumph of the north, and the tranquillity of the 
south, had lulled to sleep two-thirds of the conti- 
nent. The remaining part was harassed by two 

D 2 


armies ; and, throughout this revolution, the greatest 
difficulty was, that, in order to conceal misfor- 
tunes from the enemy, it was necessary to conceal 
them from the nation also ; that by awakening the 
one, information was likewise given to the other; and 
that fatal blows would have been struck upon the 
weakest points before democratic tardiness could 
have been roused to support them. It was from 
this cause that, during the whole war, the real force 
of the army was always kept a profound secret ; 
even congress was not apprised of it, and the gene- 
rals were often themselves deceived. General 
Washington never placed unlimited confidence in 
any person, except in M. de Lafayette ; because for 
him alone, perhaps, confidence sprung from warm 
affection. As the situation grew more critical, dis- 
cipline became more necessary. In the course of his 
nocturnal rounds, in the midst of heavy snows, M 
de Lafayette was obliged to break some negligent 
officers. He adopted in every respect the American 
dress, habits, and food. He wished to be more 
simple, frugal, and austere than the Americans 
themselves. Brought up in the lap of luxury, he 
suddenly changed his whole manner of living, and 
his constitution bent itself to privation as well as to 
fatigue. He always took the liberty of freely 
writing his ideas to congress ; or, in imitation of the 
prudence of the general, he gave his opinion to 
some members of a corps or state assembly, that, 
being adopted by them, it might be brought for- 
ward in the deliberations of congress. 

In addition to the difficulties which lasted during 
the whole of the war, the winter of Valley-Forge 
recals others still more painful. At Yorktown, be- 
hind the Susquehannah, congress was divided into 
two factions, which, in spite of their distinction of 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 37 

south and east, did not the less occasion a separation 
between members of the same state. The deputies 
substituted their private intrigues for the wishes of 
the nation. Several impartial men had retired ; 
several states had but one representative, and in 
some cases not even one. Party spirit was so 
strong, that three years afterwards congress still felt 
the effects of it. Any great event, however, would 
awaken their patriotism ; and when Burgoyne de- 
clared that his treaty had been broken, means were 
found to stop the departure of his troops, which 
everything, even the few provisions for the trans- 
ports, had foolishly betrayed. But all these di- 
visions failed to produce the greatest of calamities 
the loss of the only man capable of conducting 
the revolution. 

Gates was at Yorktown, where he inspired re- 
spect by his manners, promises, and European ac- 
quirements. Amongst the deputies who united 
themselves to him, may be numbered the Lees, 
Virginians, enemies of Washington, and the two 
Adams. Mifflin, quarter-master-general, aided him 
with his talents and brilliant eloquence. They re- 
quired a name to bring forward in the plot, and 
they selected Conway, who fancied himself the 
chief of a party. To praise Gates, with a certain 
portion of the continent and the troops, was a pre- 
text for speaking of themselves. The people attach 
themselves to prosperous generals, and the com- 
mander-in-chief had been unsuccessful. His own 
character inspired respect and affection; but Greene, 
Hamilton, Knox, his best friends, were sadly de- 
famed. The Tories fomented these dissensions. 
The presidency of the war-office, which had been 
created for Gates, restricted the power of the gene- 
ral. This was not the only inconvenience ; a com- 


mittee from congress arrived at the camp, and the 
attack of Philadelphia was daringly proposed. The 
most shrewd people did not believe that Gates was 
the real object of this intrigue. Though a good officer, 
he had not the power to assert himself. He would 
have given place to the famous General Lee, then a 
prisoner of the English, whose first care would have 
been to have made over to them his friends and all 

Attached, to the general, and still more so to the 
cause, M. de Lafayette did not hesitate for a mo- 
ment ; and, in spite of the caresses of one party, 
he remained faithful to the other, whose ruin 
seemed then impending. He saw and corresponded 
frequently with the general, and often discussed 
with him his own private situation, and the effect 
that various meliorations in the army might pro- 
duce. Having sent for his wife to the camp, the 
general preserved in his deportment the noble com- 
posure which belongs to a strong and virtuous mind. 
" I have not sought for this place," said he to M. de 
Lafayette ; " if I am displeasing to the nation, I 
will retire; but until then I will oppose all intrigues." 

(1778.) The 22nd of January, congress resolved 
that Canada should be entered, and the choice fell 
upon M. de Lafayette. The Generals Conway and 
Stark were placed under him. Hoping to intoxi- 
cate and govern so young a commander, the war- 
office, without consulting the commander-in-chief, 
wrote to him to go and await his further instruc- 
tions at Albany.* But after having won over by 
his arguments the committee which congress had 
sent to the camp, M. de Lafayette hastened to 
Yorktown, and declared there " that he required 

* See fragment C, at the end of the Memoirs. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 39 

circumstantial orders, a statement of the means to 
be employed, the certainty of not deceiving the 
Canadians, an augmentation of generals, and rank 
for several Frenchmen, fully impressed," he added, 
"with the various duties and advantages they derived 
from their name ; but the first condition he de- 
manded was, not to be made, like Gates, indepen- 
dent of General Washington." At Gates' own house 
he braved the whole party, and threw them into con- 
fusion by making them drink the health of their 
general.* In congress he was supported by Presi- 
dent Laurens, and he obtained all that he de- 
manded. His instructions from the war-office pro- 
mised that 2500 men should be assembled at 
Albany, and a large corps of militia at Coos ; that 
he should have two millions in paper money, some 
hard specie, and all means supplied for crossing 
lake Champlain upon the ice, whence, after having 
burnt the English flotilla, he was to proceed to Mon- 
treal, and act there as circumstances might require. 
Repassing then, not without some danger, the 
Susquehannah, which was filled with floating masses 
of ice, M. de Lafayette set out for Albany, and, in 
spite of the obstacles offered by ice and snow, 
rapidly traversed an extent of four hundred miles. 
Whilst travelling thus on horseback, he became 
thoroughly acquainted with the simplicity and purity 
of the inhabitants, their patriarchal mode of life, 
and their republican ideas. Devoted to their house- 

* After having thus declared himself, he wrote to congress 
that " he could only accept the command on condition of re- 
maining subordinate to General Washington, of being but con- 
sidered as an officer detached from him, and of addressing all 
' his letters to him, of which those received by congress would be 
but duplicates." These requests, and all the others he made,, 
were granted. (Manuscript No. 2.) 


hold cares, the women are happy, and afford to 
their husbands the calmest and truest felicity. To 
unmarried women alone is love spoken of, and 
their modesty enhances the charm of their innocent 
coquetry. In the chance marriages which take 
place in Paris, the fidelity of the wife is often re- 
pugnant to the voice of nature and of reason, one 
might almost say to the principles of justice. In 
America, a girl marries her lover, and it would he 
like having two lovers at the same time if she were 
to break that valid agreement ; because both parties 
know equally how and in what manner they are 
bound to each other. In the bosom of their own 
families, the men occupy themselves with their pri- 
vate affairs, or assemble together to regulate those of 
the state. They talk politics over their glasses, and 
become animated by patriotism rather than strong 
liquor. Whilst the children shed tears at the name 
of Tory, the old men sent up prayers to Heaven that 
they might be permitted to see the end of that war. 
During his repeated and rapid journeys, M. de 
Lafayette, mixing with all classes of society, was not 
wholly useless to the good cause, to the interest of 
the French, and to the party of General Wash- 

M. de Lafayette, on arriving at Albany, experi- 
enced some disappointments. Instead of 2500 
men, there were not 1200. Stark's militia had not 
even received a summons. Clothes, provisions, 
magazines, sledges, all were insufficient for that 
glacial expedition. By making better preparations, 
and appointing the general earlier, success would 
probably have been secured. Several Canadians 
began to make a movement, and from that moment 
they testified great interest in M. de Lafayette ; but 
two months were requisite to collect alf that was 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 41 

necessary, and towards the middle of March the 
lakes begin to thaw. M. de Lafayette, general, at 
twenty years of age, of a small army, charged with 
an important and very difficult operation, autho- 
rized by the orders of congress, animated by the 
expectations now felt in America, and which, he 
knew, would ere long be felt likewise in Europe, 
had many motives for becoming adventurous ; but, 
on the other hand, his resources were slender, the 
time allowed him was short, the enemy was in 
a good position, and Lieutenant- General Carleton 
was preparing for him another Saratoga. Forced 
to take a decisive step immediately, he wrote a calm 
letter to congress, and with a heavy sigh abandoned 
the enterprise. At the same period, congress, be- 
coming a little less confident, despatched to him some 
wavering counsels, which, arriving too late, only 
served to compromise the general and justify the 
government. But the prudence of M. de Lafayette 
was at length rewarded by the approbation of con- 
gress and of the nation ; and, until the opening of 
the campaign, he continued to command that de- 
partment.* He found there that intrepid Arnold, 
who was still detained by his wound, and who since 

* He had the discretion to renounce an expedition which, 
undertaken without proper means, would have produced fatal 
effects upon the whole northern part of the United States. At 
Georgetown, the present residence of congress, some anxiety 
was experienced, because they feared that M. de Lafayette had 
trusted himself upon the lakes in the season of the year when 
the ice begins to melt. The counter orders that were sent him 
would have arrived too late ; and when it became known that 
he had himself renounced the expedition, he received the 
thanks of congress and of the minister of war, General Gates, 
who, in spite of the line of conduct Lafayette had pursued 
during his quarrel with General Washington, had always ex- 
pressed great respect and esteem for him. (Manuscript No. 1.) 


; he became intimately acquainted with 

Schuyler, the predecessor of Gates, in disgrace as 
well as Saint-Clair, but who continued useful to the 
cause from the superiority of his talents, his im- 
portance in that part of the country, and the confi- 
dence he enjoyed in New York, of which state he 
was a citizen. 

If Canada did not herself send an offensive army, 
all the savages were paid and protected by the Eng- 
lish party : the Hurons and Iroquois committed 
their devastations on that whole frontier. Some 
baubles or a barrel of rum were sufficient to make 
them seize the tomahawk ; they then rushed upon 
villages, burnt houses, destroyed harvests, mas- 
sacred all, without regard to age or sex, and received 
on their return the price of each bloody scalp they 
could exhibit. A young American girl, whom her 
lover, an English officer, was expecting, that their 
marriage might take place, was killed by the very 
savages he had sent to escort her. Two Americans 
were actually eaten up by the Senecas, and a colo- 
nel of the English army was a guest at that horrible 
repast. " It is thus," was often said to the savages, 
whilst drinking with them at the councils, "it is 
thus we must drink the blood of rebels." M. de 
Lafayette, conscious that he could not protect such 
an immense extent of frontier, prepared quarters in 
every direction, and announced the speedy arrival 
of troops in all the counties ; and this stratagem 
stopped the depredations of the savages, who do not 
usually attack those places in which they expect to 
find much resistance. But he kept the Albany 
troops close together, satisfied them a little as to 
payment, provisioned the forts, which had been 
hitherto neglected, and arrested a plot of which the 
particulars have never been precisely known. He 

UNTIL THE YEAR .1780. 43 

found in George Clinton, governor of the state of 
New York, a firm and an enlightened co-operator. 

Soon after, Schuyler and Duane, who were charged 
with the management of the affairs of the savages, ap- 
pointed a general assembly at Johnson's Town, upon 
the Mohawk river. Recalling to them their former 
attachment to the French, M. de Lafayette repaired 
thither in a sledge to shew himself in person to 
those nations whom the English had endeavoured to 
prejudice against him. Five hundred men, women, 
and children, covered with various coloured paints 
and feathers, with their ears cut open, their noses 
ornamented with rings, and their half-naked bodies 
marked with different figures, were present at the 
councils. Their old men, whilst smoking, talked 
politics extremely well. Their object seemed to be 
to promote a balance of power ; if the intoxication 
of rum, as that of ambition in Europe, had not 
often turned them aside from it. M. de Lafayette, 
adopted by them, received the name of Kayewla, 
which belonged formerly to one of their war- 
riors ; and under this name he is well known to 
all the savage tribes. Some louis which he distri- 
buted under the form of medals, and some stuffs 
from the state of New York, produced but little 
effect when compared to the presents they had re- 
ceived from England. A treaty was entered into, 
which some of them rigidly observed; and the 
course of the evil was at least arrested for the pre- 
sent. The Oneidas and Tuscaroras, the only real 
friends the Americans possessed, requested to have 
a fort; and M. de Lafayette left them M. de Gouvion, 
a French officer, whose talents and virtues rendered 
him of great value to the cause. Whenever savages 
were required at the army, whenever there was any 
dealings with these tribes, recourse was always had 


to the credit of M. de Lafayette, whose necklaces 
and words were equally respected. 

On his return, he found that the form of a new 
oath had been established, which each civil and 
military officer was to take, according to his own 
religious belief. An acknowledgment of the indepen- 
dence, liberty, and sovereignty of the United States ; 
an eternal renunciation of George III., his successors, 
and heirs, and every King of England ; a promise to 
defend the said states against the said George III.; 
this was the purport of the oath administered 
by him to the whole northern department.* At 
the approach of spring, M. de Lafayette was 
recalled to the south. The affairs of General 
Washington were already in a more flourishing 
condition. Several of the states recommended 
him to their deputies ; and from only suspecting 
one of them of being unfavourable to him, the New 
York assembly wished to recal one of their dele- 
gates. Congress had been a little recruited, and 
they were thinking of recruiting the army. At 
Valley-Forge, M. de Lafayette found some difficulty, 
not from the substance, but merely from the form 
of the oath ; but that difficulty was easily obviated. 
A short time after, Simeon Deane arrived with the 
treaty of commerce between France and the United 

By quitting France in so public a manner, M. de 
Lafayette had served the cause of the revolution. 
One portion of society was anxious for his success, 
and the attention of the other had become, to 

* It is singular that the oath of renunciation to Great Britain 
and her king, which every one employed in the continental service 
was obliged to take at that time, should have been administered 
in one half of the United States by a Frenchman of twenty 
years of age. (Manuscript No. 2.) 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 45 

say the least, somewhat occupied in the struggle. If 
a spirit of emulation made those connected with the 
court desirous of war, the rest of the nation sup- 
ported the young rebel, and followed with interest 
all his movements ; and it is well known that the 
rupture that ensued was truly a national one. 
Some circumstances relating to his departure hav- 
ing displeased the court of London, M. de La- 
fayette omitted nothing that could draw more 
closely together the nations whose union he so 
ardently desired. The incredible prejudices of the 
Americans had been augmented by the conduct of 
the first Frenchmen who had joined them. These 
men gradually disappeared, and all those who re- 
mained were remarkable for talents, or at least for 
probity. They became the friends of M. de La- 
fayette, who sincerely sought out all the national 
prejudices of the Americans against his countrymen 
for the purpose of overcoming them. Love and 
respect for the name of Frenchman animated his 
letters and speeches, and he wished the affection 
that was granted to him individually to become 
completely national. On the other side, when 
writing to Europe, he denied the reports made by 
discontented adventurers, by good officers who were 
piqued at not having been employed, and by those 
men who, serving themselves in the army, wished 
to be witty or amusing by the political contrasts 
they described in their letters. But, without giving 
a circumstantial account of what private influence 
achieved, it is certain that enthusiasm for the cause, 
and esteem for its defenders, had electrified all 
France, and that the affair of Saratoga decided the 
ministerial commotion. Bills of conciliation passed 
in the English house of parliament, and five com- 
missioners were sent to offer far more than had 


been demanded until then. No longer waiting to 
see how things would turn out, M. de Maurepas 
yielded to the public wish, and what his luminous 
mind had projected, the more unchanging disposition 
of M. de Vergennes put in execution. A treaty was 
generously entered into with Franklin, Deane, and 
Arthur Lee, and that treaty was announced with 
more confidence than had been for some time dis- 
played. But the war was not sufficiently foreseen, or 
at least sufficient preparations were not made. The 
most singular fact is, that at the very period when the 
firm resistance of the court of France had guided the 
conduct of two courts, America had fallen herself 
into such a state of weakness, that she was on the 
very brink of ruin. The 2nd of May, the army made 
a bonfire, and M. de Lafayette, ornamented with 
a white scarf, proceeded to the spot, accompanied 
by all the French. Since the arrival of the conci- 
liatory bills, he had never ceased writing against the 
commission, and against every commissioner. The 
advances of these men were ill-received by congress ; 
and, foreseeing a French co-operation, the enemy 
began to think of quitting Philadelphia. 

General Washington sent two thousand chosen 
men across the Schuylkill to collect intelligence. 
M. de Lafayette, their commander, repaired, the 
18th of May, to Barren Hill, eleven miles from the 
two armies. On a good elevation, his right resting 
upon some rocks and the river, on his left some 
excellent stone houses and a small wood, his front 
sustained by five pieces of cannon, and with roads 
in his rear, such was the position of M. de La- 
fayette. An hundred dragoons whom he was ex- 
pecting did not arrive in sufficient time ; but he 
stationed six hundred militia on his left at White - 
marsh, and their general, Porter, made himself an- 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 47 

swerable for those roads. On the evening of the 
19th, Howe, who had just been recalled, and Clin- 
ton, who replaced him, sent out a detachment 01 
seven thousand men, with fourteen pieces of cannon, 
under General Grant. Passing behind the inunda- 
tion, that corps proceeded on the road to Francfort, 
and, by a circuitous movement, fell into that of 
Whitemarsh, from which the militia had just thought 
proper to retire. On the morning of the 20th, M. de 
Lafayette was conversing with a young lady, who, 
on pretence of seeing her relations, to oblige him 
had consented to go to Philadelphia, when he was 
informed that the red dragoons were at Whitemarsh. 
It was the uniform of those he was expecting ; he 
had placed Porter there ; he had promised to pay 
him a visit, and intended that very evening to carry 
thither his detachment. But, for greater security, 
he examined carefully into the truth of the report; 
and, ascertaining that a column was marching on 
the left, he changed his front, and covered it with the 
houses, the wood, and a small churchyard. Scarcely 
was that movement ended, when he found himselr 
cut off by Grant on the Swedes' Ford road in his rear. 
It was in the presence of the troops that he first 
heard the cry that he was surrounded, and he was 
forced to smile at the unpleasant intelligence. Several 
officers, whom he had despatched to Valley-Forge, 
declared that they had been unable to find a passage. 
Every moment was precious, and M. de Lafayette 
proceeded on the road of Matson Ford, to which 
the enemy was nearer than himself. General Poor 
commanded his advance guard ; and to him he sent 
Gimat, his own confidential aide-de-camp. He 
placed himself as the rear guard, and marched on 
with rapidity, but without precipitation. Grant had 
possession of the heights, and M. de Lafayette's road 
lay immediately beneath them. His apparent com- 


posure deceived his adversary ; and perceiving tint 
he was reconnoitring him, he presented to him, from 
among the trees and behind curtains, false heads of 
columns. The time that Grant occupied in recon- 
noitring, and discovering an imaginary ambuscade, 
M. de Lafayette employed in regaining the fore- 
ground ; at length he passed by Grant's column. 
He managed to impose likewise on Grey's column, 
which followed him ; and when the third division, 
under Howe and Clinton, reached Barren Hill, the 
Americans had already passed over Matson Ford. 
Forming themselves on the opposite shore, they 
awaited the enemy, who dared not attack them. Ad- 
vancing on the ground, Howe was astonished at find- 
ing only one red line : the generals quarrelled ; and 
although the commander in chief had invited some 
ladies to sup with M. de Lafayette, although the 
admiral, (Howe's brother,) knowing him to be sur- 
rounded, had prepared a frigate for him, the whole 
army, (of which half had made a march of forty 
miles,) returned, much fatigued, without having taken 
a single man. It was then that fifty savages, friends 
of the Americans, encountered fifty English dra- 
goons ; and the cries of war on one side, and the 
appearance of the cavalry on the other, surprised 
the parties so much that they both fled, with equal 
speed. The alarm had been likewise great at Valley- 
Forge ; and the report of three pieces of cannon that 
were there fired appeared an additional mystery to 
Grant. The aim of the general being attained, the de- 
tachment returned to its quarters, and M. de Lafay- 
ette was well received by the general and army.* 

An exchange of prisoners had long been talked 
of, and the cruelty of the English rendered this 
measure more necessary. Cooped up in a vessel at 

* See, after these Memoirs, fragment D. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 49 

New York, and breathing a most noxious atmospher % 
the American prisoners suffered all that gross inso- 
lence could add to famine, dirt, disease, and complete 
neglect. Their food was, to say the least, unwhole- 
some. The officers, often confounded with their 
soldiers, appealed to former capitulations and to the 
right of nations ; but they were only answered by 
fresh outrages. When one victim sunk beneath 
such treatment, " Tis well," was said to the sur- 
vivors ; " there is one rebel less." Acts of retalia- 
tion had been but rarely practised by the Ame- 
ricans ; and the English, like other tyrants, mistook 
their mildness and generosity for timidity. Five 
hundred Americans, in a half-dying state, had been 
carried to the sea-shore, where the greatest number 
of them soon expired, and the general very properly 
refused to reckon them in exchange for his own pri- 
soners of war. Another obstacle to the cartel was 
the capture of Lee, who had been taken prisoner in 
1776 ; the congress insisted on his liberation, and, 
after much debating on both sides, he was at length 
exchanged for General Prescot. Lee, who had been 
formerly a colonel in the English service, a general 
in Poland, and a fellow-soldier of the Russians and 
Portuguese, was well acquainted with all countries, 
all services, and several languages. His features 
were plain, his turn of mind caustic, his feelings 
ambitious and avaricious, his temper uncomplying, 
and his whole appearance singular and unprepos- 
sessing. A temporary fit of generosity had induced 
him to quit the English service, and the Americans, 
at that period, listened to him as to an oracle. In 
his heart he detested the general, and felt a sincere 
affection for himself alone ; but, in 1776, his advice 
nad undoubtedly saved both the general and the 
army. He made many advances to M. de Lafayette, 
VOL. i. E 


but the one was a violent Englishman, and the other 
an enthusiastic frenchman, and their intimacy was 
often interrupted by their differences of opinion. 
Gates, whose great projects had been frustrated, 
was at that time commanding a corps at White 
Plains, upon the left side of the Hudson, opposite 
to the island of New York. Conway had retired 
from service, and the place of inspector, which had 
been created for him, was given to Steuben, an old 
Prussian, with moderate talents, but methodical 
habits, who organized the army and perfected their 
tactics. The congress received at that time some 
conciliatory epistles, and the sentiments their an- 
swers breathed, like all the other deliberations of 
that assembly, were nobly felt, and nobly expressed. 
Lord Carlisle was president of the commission, and 
Lord Howe, Sir Henry Clinton, Mr. Eden, and Go- 
vernor Johnstone were its members. The last 
named person wrote to some friends, who published 
his letters. 

On the 17th of June, Philadelphia was evacuated. 
The invalids, magazines, and heavy ammunition 
of the British were embarked with the general ; the 
commissioners of conciliation alone remained be- 
hind. Passing over to Gloucester, the army marched, 
in two columns, each consisting of seven thousand 
men, commanded by Clinton and Knyp'hausen, to- 
wards New York. The army of the United States, 
which was of nearly equal force, directed itself from 
Valley Forge to Coryell's Ferry, and from thence to 
King's Town, within a march of the enemy ; it was 
thus left at the option of the Americans, either to 
follow on their track, or to repair to White Plains. 
In a council held on this subject, Lee very eloquently 
endeavoured to prove that it was necessary to erect 
a bridge of gold for the enemy ; that while on the 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 51 

very point of forming an alliance with them, every 
thing ought not to be placed at hazard ; that the 
English army had never been so excellent and so 
well disciplined ; he declared himself to be for 
White Plains : his speech influenced the opinion of 
Lord Stirling and of the brigadiers-general. M. de 
Lafayette, placed on the other side, spoke late, and 
asserted that it would be disgraceful for the chiefs, 
and humiliating for the troops, to allow the enemy 
to traverse the Jerseys tranquilly ; that, without 
running any improper risk, the rear guard might 
be attacked ; that it was necessary to follow the 
English, manoeuvre with prudence, take advantage 
of a temporary separation, and, in short, seize the 
most favourable opportunities and situations. This 
advice was approved by many of the council, and 
above all by M. du Portail, chief of the engineers, 
and a very distinguished officer. The majority were, 
however, in favour of Lee ; but M. de Lafayette 
spoke again to the general on this subject in the 
evening, and was seconded by Hamilton, and by 
Greene, who had been lately named quarter-master 
in place of Mifflin. Several of the general officers 
changed their opinion ; and the troops having already 
begun their march, they were halted, in order to form 
a detachment. When united, there were 3,000 con- 
tinentalists and 1,200 militia; the command fell 
to the share of Lee, but, by the express desire of the 
general, M. de Lafayette succeeded in obtaining it. 
Everything was going on extremely well, when Lee 
changed his mind, and chose to command the troops 
himself; having again yielded this point, he re- 
changed once more ; and as the general wished him 
to adhere to his first decision " It is my fortune and 
honour," said Lee, to M. de Lafayette, " that I 
place in your hands ; you are too generous to cause 



the loss of both!" This tone succeeded better, 
and M. de Lafayette promised to ask for him the 
next day. The enemy, unfortunately, continued 
their march ; M. de Lafayette was delayed by want 
of provisions ; and it was not until the 26th, at a 
quarter to twelve at night, that he could ask for 
Lee, who was sent with a detachment of one thou- 
sand men to Englishtown, on the left side of the 
enemy. The first corps had advanced upon their 
right ; and M. de Lafayette, by Lee's especial order, 
joined him at midday, within reach of the enemy, 
from whom he fortunately succeeded in concealing 
this movement. The two columns of the English 
army had united together at Monmouth Court- 
house, from whence they departed on the morning 
of the 28th. Whilst following them, the Ameri- 
cans marched rapidly through the woods of Freehold ; 
and at eight o'clock the enemy's rear-guard was 
still in the vicinity of the court-house. If Lee had 
continued the direction he was then taking, he 
would have placed himself in an excellent position, 
especially as the American army was advancing on 
the road to Freehold ; but the head of his column 
quitted the wood, into which it was again forced to 
retreat by the enemy's cannon. Lee then addressing 
himself to M. de Lafayette, told him to cross the 
plain, and attack the left flank of the enemy ; and 
whilst this manoeuvre, which exposed them to the fire 
of the English artillery, was executing, he sent him 
an order to fall back into the village in which he 
had placed the rest of the troops. From thence he 
drew back still farther, and, changing his attack into 
a retreat, he exposed himself to be driven back by 
Lord Cornwallis, and subsequently by the whole 
English army, to whom good space of time had 
been allowed to fonn themselves in proper order. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 53 

At the first retrograde movement, M. de Lafayette 
sent information to the general of what was pass- 
ing, who, arriving speedily on the spot, found the 
troops retreating in confusion. " You know," said 
Lee, " that all this was against my advice." The 
general, sending Lee to the rear,* himself formed 
seven or eight hundred men, and stationed them, 
with some cannon, upon a chosen spot, and M. de 
Lafayette undertook to retard the enemy's march. 
The English dragoons made their first charge upon 
a small morass which sheltered him : the infantry 
marched round to attack him on the other side, 
but he had sufficient time to retire; and the army 
had by this time placed itself upon a height, where 
he took the command of the second line. A can- 
nonade was kept up on both sides during the 
whole day, and two attacks of the enemy were 
repulsed. A battery, placed on their left, obliged 
them to change their position, and, when they 
presented their flank, the general attacked them 
and forced them to retreat, until darkness in- 
terrupted all operations. The American troops 
continued to gain ground, and Clinton retired 
during the night, leaving behind him more than 
three hundred dead and many wounded. The 
heat was so intense that the soldiers fell dead with- 

* The two battalions formed to arrest the enemy's march 
were placed by General Washington himself. When, after 
having expressed his own feelings of dissatisfaction, he wished 
to give himself time to form his army on the heights behind 
the passage, he left there Major-Gen eral Lafayette, Brigadier- 
General Knox, commanding the artillery, and some officers of 
his staff. The colonels were good officers, and the battalions 
conducted themselves perfectly well. When the army was ranged 
in order of battle, General Greene commanded the right of 
the first line, Lord Stirling the left, and Lafayette the second 
line. (Manuscript No. 2.) 


out having received a single wound, and the field 
of battle soon became untenable. During this affair, 
which ended so well, although begun so ill, General 
Washington appeared to arrest fortune by one 
glance, and his presence of mind, valour, and deci- 
sion of character, were never displayed to greater 
advantage than at that moment.* Wayne distin- 
guished himself ; Greene and the brave Stirling led 
forward the first line in the ablest manner. From 
four o'clock in the morning until night M. de La- 
fayette was momentarily obliged to change his oc- 
cupations. The general and he passed the night 
lying on the same mantle, talking over the conduct 
of Lee, who wrote the next morning a very improper 
letter, and was placed under arrest. He was after- 
wards suspended by a council of war, quitted the 
service, and was not regretted by the army. Clin- 
ton having retreated towards the hollows of Shrews- 
bury, the general contented himself with the suc- 
cess already gained, and marched towards White 
Plains ; the second line, under M. de Lafayette, 
forming the right column. The 4th of July, being 
the anniversary of the declaration of independence, 
was celebrated at Brunswick ; and a few days after 
the army learnt that the Count d'Estaing was before 
New York.f 

Twelve French vessels, which sailed from Toulon, 
had been three months in reaching the Delaware : 

* General Washington was never greater in battle than in 
this action. His presence stopped the retreat; his arrange- 
ments secured the victory. His graceful bearing on horse- 
back, his calm aod dignified deportment, which still retained 
some trace of the displeasure he had experienced in the morn- 
ing, were all calculated to excite the highest degree of enthu- 
siasm. (Manuscript No. 2.) 

f See, after these Memoirs, the fragment E. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 55 

they arrived three days after the departure of the 
English fleet, and, following it to New York, M. 
d'Estaing anchored at Sandy-hook, outside the bar. 
He offered immense sums to be conveyed across 
that bar, but the pilots declared that the large ves- 
sels drew too much water, and the French finally 
agreed to attack Rhode Island, which the enemy 
then occupied with a force of 5000 men, who had 
entrenched themselves ; whilst the state militia, 
under the command of Sullivan, were stationed 
at Providence. M. Girard, a French minister, 
arrived on board that squadron ; he had been 
long most anxiously expected by the Americans, 
and M. de Lafayette called his delay a proof of 
confidence. The last mark of attention with which 
the court honoured M. de Lafayette, had been an 
order to arrest him in the West Indies ; he was, in 
truth, out of favour in that quarter, and their dis- 
pleasure had increased on receiving his letters, which 
were dictated less by the prudence of a philosopher 
than by the enthusiasm of a young lover of liberty : 
but although no letters were addressed to him, M. 
d'Estaing was not less kind and attentive in his con- 
duct ; and 2000 continentalists having been des- 
patched from White-Plains to Providence, M. de 
Lafayette, who had exerted himself to hasten their 
departure, conducted them rapidly along the sound, 
across a smiling country, covered with villages, in 
which the evident equality of the population dis- 
tinctly proved the democracy of the government. 
From the apparent prosperity of each colony, it was 
easy to judge of the degree of freedom which its 
constitution might enjoy. 

By forcing the passage between Rhode Island and 
Connecticut, M. d' Estaing might easily have carried 
off as prisoners 1500 Hessians who were stationed 
on the latter island ; but he yielded to Sullivans' 


entreaties, and waited until that general should be 
in readiness : but although the troops of M. de La- 
fayette had traversed 240 miles, he found on his 
arrival that no preparations were yet made. He 
repaired to the squadron, and was received with the 
greatest possible attention, especially t>y the general ; 
and, as M. de Suffren was placed in front, he carried 
back to him an order from M. d'Estaing to attack 
three frigates, which, however, were burnt by their 
own crews. The American army repaired, on the 
8th of August, to Rowland's Ferry, during the 
time that the squadron was forcing its way be- 
tween the two islands. General Greene having 
joined the army, M. de Lafayette yielded to him 
the command of half his corps ; each then possessed 
a wing, of 1000 continentalists and 5000 militia. 
M. de Lafayette's corps was to receive the addition 
of the two battalions of Foix and Hainaut, with some 
marines, The English, fearing to be intercepted, 
evacuated the forts on the right of the island during 
the night of the 8th, and Sullivan landed with 
his troops the next day. M. de Lafayette was ex- 
pecting the French that afternoon, and the boats 
were already under way, when a squadron appeared 
in sight on the south of the island, at M. d' Estaing's 
former anchorage. Lord Howe, brave even to au- 
dacity, having watched the movements of the French 
admiral and his fleet, collected a greater number of 
ships, of which the sizes were however too unequal: 
his position, and the southern wind, would enable 
him, he thought, to throw succours into Newport, 
where General Pigot had concentrated his force ; 
but the wind changed during the night, and the 
next day M. d'Estaing, within sight of both armies, 
passed gallantly through the fire of the two batteries, 
whilst the enemy, cutting their cables, fled, under 
heavy press of sail. After a chace of eight hours the 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 57 

two squadrons at length met, and Lord Howe would 
have paid dearly for his temerity, had not a violent 
storm arisen, which dispersed the ships. By a 
singular chance, several of Byron's vessels came 
up at the same time on their return from Ports- 
mouth, having been separated at the Azores by a 
violent gale of wind. The Languedoc, the admiral's 
ship, deprived of its masts and rudder, and driven 
by the tempest to a distance from the other vessels, 
was attacked by the Isis, of fifty guns, and owed 
its safety only to the courage and firmness of M. 
d'Estaing. At length he succeeded in rallying his 
squadron, and, faithful to his engagements, reap- 
peared before Rhode Island ; but as he no longer 
possessed the superiority of force, he announced his 
intention of repairing to Boston, where the Cesar 
had taken shelter after a combat. When the storm, 
which lasted three days, subsided, the American 
army drew near Newport. This town was defended 
by two lines of redoubts and batteries, surrounded 
by a wooden palisade, the two concentrated fronts 
of which rested on the sea-shore, and were sup- 
ported by a ravine that it was necessary to cross. 
The trench was opened, the heavy batteries esta- 
blished, and General Greene and M. de Lafayette 
were deputed to go on board the French admiral ship, 
to endeavour to obtain time, and propose either to 
make an immediate attack, or to station vessels in 
the Providence river. KM. de Lafayette had felt 
consternation upon hearing of the dispersion of the 
fleet, the conduct of the sailors during the combat, 
which he learnt with tears- in his eyes, inspired him 
with the deepest grief. In the council, where the 
question was agitated, M. de Brugnon (although five 
minutes before he had maintained the contrary) gave 
his voice in favour of Boston, and his opinion was 


unanimously adopted. Before they separated, the ad- 
miral offered his two battalions to M. de Lafayette, 
and appeared to feel great pleasure in being thus en- 
abled to secure him his rank in the French army; but 
these troops were useful on board, and were not ne- 
cessary on the island, and M. de Lafayette would not 
expose them to danger for his own private interest. 
At the departure of the vessels, there was but one 
unanimous feeling of regret and indignation. Their 
lost time, extinguished hopes, and embarrassed situa- 
tion, all served to increase the irritation of the militia, 
and their discontent became contagious. The people 
of Boston already spoke of refusing the fleet admis- 
sion into their port ; the generals drew up a protesta- 
tion, which M. de Lafayette refused to sign. Carried 
away by an impulse of passion, Sullivan inserted in 
an order " that our allies have abandoned us." His 
ill humour was encouraged by Hancock, a member 
of congress, formerly its president, and who then 
commanded the militia of Massachusets stationed on 
the island. To him M. de Lafayette first declared his 
intentions, and then, calling upon Sullivan, he in- 
sisted upon the words used in the order of the morn- 
ing being retracted in that of the evening. Some 
hours after, the general returned his visit, and, draw- 
ing him aside, a very warm altercation took place ; 
but although totally indifferent to the peril of a duel, 
Sullivan was neither indifferent to the loss of the in- 
timacy of M. de Lafayette, nor to the influence this 
young Frenchman possessed at head-quarters, and 
over congress and the nation ; and in the nu- 
merous letters which M. de Lafayette wrote on this 
occasion, he made ample use of his influence over 
those three important powers. 

Dr. Cooper, a presbyterian minister, was ex- 
tremely useful at Boston ; and Hancock himself 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 59 

ended by repairing thither to receive the squadron. 
Rather than yield to the public torrent, M. de La- 
fayette had risked his own popularity ; and in the 
fear of being guided by private interest, he had 
gone to the extreme in the opposite line of con- 
duct. He lived in complete retirement, in his own 
military quarter, and was never seen but at the 
trench or the council, in which latter place he would 
not allow the slightest observation to be made against 
the French squadron. As hopes were still enter- 
tained of obtaining assistance from the latter, it was 
resolved to retreat to the north of the island ; and 
M. de Lafayette was sent on an embassy to M. 
d'Estaing. After having travelled all night, he 
arrived at the moment when the general and his 
officers were entering Boston. A grand repast, given 
by the town, was followed by a conference between 
the council, the admiral, and himself, at which M. 
d'Estaing, while he clearly demonstrated the insuffi- 
ciency of his naval force, offered to march himself 
with his troops. Every word was submitted to M. 
de Lafayette, and the admiral remarked this defer- 
ence without appearing hurt by it. That same day, 
the 29th August, Sullivan retreated from his post ; 
and although the discontent which the militia ex- 
perienced had diminished the number of his troops, 
he conducted this movement, and the attack which 
it occasioned, with great ability. 

The next morning, at the same time that M. de 
Lafayette was informed of the event, he learnt also 
that the two armies were in close contact at the 
north of the island, and that Clinton had arrived 
with a reinforcement. Traversing then eighty miles 
in less than eight hours, he repaired to Rowland's 
Ferry, arriving there just as the army was re-cross- 
ing it A corps of a thousand men had been left 


on the island, surrounded with divisions of the 
enemy: M. de Lafayette undertook the charge 
of them, and succeeded in withdrawing them with- 
out losing a single man. When congress returned 
thanks to him for his conduct during this retreat, 
they likewise expressed their gratitude for his 
journey to Boston, at the very period when he 
might so rationally have expected an engagement.* 
Sullivan returned to Providence, and left M. de 
Lafayette in the command of the posts around the 
island : the post of Bristol, in which his principal 
corps was placed, was exposed to an attack by water; 
he announced this to General Washington, to whom, 
Sullivan said, he thought the same idea had also oc- 
curred. It was at this place he learnt the affair of 
Ouessant, which he expected to celebrate as an im- 
portant victory ; but the welfare of the squadron 
recalled him to Boston, where he felt he could be 
useful to his countrymen. The general dissatisfac- 
tion was soon appeased ; and although M. de Saint 
Sauveur had been killed accidentally in a tumult, 
the French had nevertheless full cause to acknow- 
ledge the kindness and moderation of the Bosto- 
nians. During a walk which he took with the 
Count d'Estaing, M. de Lafayette pointed out to 
him the remains of the army of Burgoyne : two 
soldiers of militia, stationed at each wing, alone 
.constituted its guard. Feeling that his presence 
was no longer necessary to the squadron, and be- 
lieving that it was his duty to return to France, M. 
de Lafayette set out to rejoin the principal corps of 
the army at Philadelphia. 

During that time, the commissioners had made 
many addresses and proclamations. By endeavour- 

* See fragment F. 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 61 

ing to gain over one member, Johnstone had dis- 
pleased the congress, who refused to treat with him. 
In a public letter, signed Carlisle, the French nation 
was taxed with a perfidy too universally acknowledged 
to require any new proof. With the effervescence of 
youth and patriotism, M. de Lafayette seized this 
opportunity of opposing the commission; and the 
first impulse of M. d'Estaing was to approve of 
his conduct. A haughty challenge was sent from 
head-quarters to Lord Carlisle : the answer was an 
ill-explained refusal ; and the impetuosity of M. de 
Lafayette was attended with a good result, whilst 
the prudence of the president was ridiculed in every 
public paper. * 

Soon afterwards, during M. de Lafayette's resi- 
dence at Philadelphia, the commission received its 
death-blow; whilst he was breakfasting with the 
members of congress, the different measures proper 
to be pursued were frankly and cheerfully discussed. 
The correspondence which took place at that time 
is generally known ; the congress remained ever 
noble, firm, and faithful to its allies : secretary 
Thomson, in his last letter to Sir Henry Clinton, 
informs him, that " the congress does not answer im- 
pertinent letters.' 9 To conceal nothing from the 
people, all the proposals were invariably printed ; 

* The following was written by M. de Lafayette twenty ^ , 
years after the presumed date of the memoirs: "Lord Carlisle 
refused, and he was right. The challenge, however, excited 
some jokes against the commission and its president, which, 
whether well or ill founded, are always disadvantageous to those 
who become their objects." (Manuscript No. 1.) " Lord Car- 
lisle was right : but the challenge appearing the result of chivalric 
patriotism, party spirit took advantage of the circumstance, and 
the feeling which had inspired this irregular step was generally 
approved." (Manuscript No. 2.) 


but able writers were employed in pointing out the 
errors they contained. In that happy country, 
where each man understood and attended to public 
affairs, the newspapers became powerful instruments 
to aid the revolution. The same spirit was also 
breathed from the pulpit, for the Bible in many 
places favours republicanism. M. de Lafayette, 
having once reproached an Anglican minister with 
speaking only of heaven, went to hear him preach 
the following Sunday, and the words, the execrable 
house of Hanover, proved the docility of the minister. 
M. de Lafayette addressed a polite letter to the 
French minister, and wrote also to the congress, 
that, " whilst he believed himself free, he had sup- 
ported the cause under the American banner ; that 
his country was now at war, and that his services 
were first due to her ; that he hoped to return ; 
and that he should always retain his zealous interest 
for the United States." The congress not only 
granted him an unlimited leave of absence, but 
added to it the most flattering expressions of grati- 
tude. It was resolved that a sword, covered with 
emblems, should be presented to him, in the name 
of the United States, by their minister in France : 
they wrote to the king; and the Alliance, of thirty- 
six guns, their finest ship, was chosen to carry 
him back to Europe. M. de Lafayette would neither 
receive from them anything farther, nor allow them 
to ask any favour for him at the court of France. 
But the congress, when proposing a co-operation in 
Canada, expressed its wish of seeing the arrange- 
ment of the affair confided to him: this project 
was afterwards deferred from the general's not enter- 
taining hopes of its ultimate success. But although 
old prejudices were much softened, although the 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 63 

conduct of the admiral and the squadron had excited 
universal approbation, the congress, the general, 
and, in short, every one, told M. de Lafayette that, 
in the whole circuit of the thirteen states, vessels 
only were required, and that the appearance of a 
French corps would alarm the nation. As M. de 
Lafayette was obliged to embark at Boston, he set 
out again on this journey of four hundred miles ; he 
hoped, also, that he should be able to take leave of 
M. d'Estaing, who had offered to accompany him 
to the islands, and whose friendship and misfortunes 
affected him as deeply as his active genius and 
patriotic courage excited his admiration. 

Heated by fatiguing journeys and over exertion, 
and still more by the grief he had experienced at 
Rhode Island; and having afterwards laboured hard, 
drank freely, and passed several sleepless nights at 
Philadelphia, M. de Lafayette proceeded on horse- 
back, in a high state of fever, and during a pelting 
autumnal rain. Fetes were given in compliment to 
him throughout his journey, and he endeavoured to 
strengthen himself with wine, tea, and rum : but at 
Fishkill, eight miles from head -quarters, he was 
obliged to yield to the violence of an inflammatory 
fever. He was soon reduced to the last extremity, 
and the report of his approaching death distressed 
the army, by whom he was called the soldier's friend, 
and the whole nation were unanimous in expressing 
their good wishes and regrets for the marquis, the 
name by which he was exclusively designated. From 
the first moment, Cockran, director of the hospitals, 
left all his other occupations to attend to him alone. 
General Washington came every day to inquire after 
his friend ; but, fearing to agitate him, he only con- 
versed with the physician, and returned home with 


tearful eyes, and a heart oppressed with grief,* 
Suffering acutely from a raging fever and violent 
head-ache, M. de Lafayette felt convinced that he 
was dying, but did not lose for a moment the clear- 
ness of his understanding : having taken measures 
to be apprised of the approach of death, he regretted 
that he could not hope again to see his country and 
the dearest objects of his affection. Far from fore- 
seeing the happy fate that awaited him, he would 
willingly have exchanged his future chance of life, 
in spite of his one and twenty years, for the certainty 
of living but for three months, on the condition of 
again seeing his friends, and witnessing the happy 
termination of the American war. But to the assist- 
ance of medical art, and the assiduous care of Dr. 
Cockran, nature added the alarming though salutary 
remedy of an hemorrhage. At the expiration of 
three months, M. de Lafayette's life was no longer 
in danger : he was at length allowed to see the 
general, and think of public affairs. By decypher- 
ing a letter from M. d'Estaing, he learnt that, in 
spite of twenty-one English vessels, the squadron 
had set out for la Martinique. After having spent 
some days together, and spoken of their past la- 
bours, present situations, and future projects, Gene- 
ral Washington and he took a tender and painful 
leave of each other. At the same time that the ene- 
mies of this great man have accused him of insen- 
sibility, they have acknowledged his tenderness for 
M. de Lafayette ; and how is it possible that he 

* General Washington who, when Lafayette was wounded 
at Brandywine, said to the surgeon, " Take care of him as if he 
were my son, for I love him the same"- expressed for him, during 
this illness, the most tender and paternal anxiety. (Manuscript 
No. 1.) 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 65 

should not have been warmly cherished by his dis- 
ciple, he who, uniting all that is good to all that is 
great, is even more sublime from his virtues than 
from his talents ? Had he been a common soldier, 
he would have been the bravest in the ranks; 
had he been an obscure citizen, all his neighbours 
would have respected him. With a heart and mind 
equally correctly formed, he judged both of himself 
and circumstances with strict impartiality. Nature, 
whilst creating him expressly for that revolution, 
conferred an honour upon herself; and, to shew her 
work to the greatest possible advantage, she consti- 
tuted it in such a peculiar manner, that each distinct 
quality would have failed in producing the end 
required, had it not been sustained by all the 

In spite of his extreme debility, M. de Lafayette, 
accompanied by his physician, repaired, on horse- 
back, to Boston, where Madeira wine effectually 
restored his health. The crew of the Alliance was 
not complete, and the council offered to institute a 
press, but M. de Lafayette would not consent to this 
method of obtaining sailors, and it was at length re- 
solved to make up the required number by embarking 
some English deserters, together with some volun- 
teers from among the prisoners . After he had written 
to Canada, and sent some necklaces to a few of the 
savage tribes, Brice and Nevil, his aides-de-camp, 
bore his farewell addresses to the congress, the gene- 
ral, and his friends. The inhabitants of Boston, who 
had given him so many proofs of their kindness and 
attention, renewed their marks of affection at his de- 
parture ; and the Alliance sailed on the 1 1th of January. 
A winter voyage is always boisterous in that latitude ; 
but on approaching the banks of Newfoundland, the 
frigate experienced a violent storm : her main-top 

VOL. i. F 


mast torn away, injured by a heavy sea, filling with 
water, during one long dark night she was in 
imminent danger ; but a still greater peril awaited 
her, two hundred leagues from the coast of France. 
His British Majesty, encouraging the mutiny 
of crews, had issued a somewhat immoral pro- 
clamation, promising them the value of every rebel 
vessel that they should bring into an English port ; 
which exploit could only be performed by the mas- 
sacre of the officers and those who opposed the 
mutiny. This proclamation gave rise to a plot 
which was formed by the English deserters and 
volunteers, who had most imprudently been ad- 
mitted, in great numbers, on board the ship: not one 
American or Frenchman (for some French sailors 
had been found at Boston, after the departure of 
the squadron) took part in this conspiracy. The 
cry of Sail ! was to be raised, and when the pas- 
sengers and officers came on deck, four cannon, 
loaded with canister shot, prepared by the gunner's 
mate, were to blow them into atoms. An English 
Serjeant had also contrived to get possession of some 
loaded arms. The hour first named was four in the 
morning, but was changed to four in the afternoon. 
During that interim, the conspirators, deceived by 
the accent of an American who had lived a long 
time in Ireland, and traded on its coast, disclosed 
the plot to him, and offered him the command of 
the frigate : the worthy man pretended to accept it, 
and was only able to inform the captain and M. de 
Lafayette of the conspiracy one hour before the time 
fixed for its execution. They rushed, sword in hand, 
upon deck, followed by the other passengers and offi- 
cers, called upon their own sailors to assist them, and 
seized thirty-one of the culprits, whom they placed in 
irons. Many others were accused in the deposi- 

UNTIL THE YEAR 1780. 67 

tions, but it was judged expedient to appear to rely 
upon the rest of the crew, although real confidence 
was only placed in the French and Americans. 
Eight days afterwards, the Alliance entered safely 
the port of Brest, February, 1779. 

When I saw the port of Brest receive and salute 
the banner which floated on my frigate, I recalled 
to mind the state of my country and of America, 
and my peculiar situation when I quitted France. 
The conspirators were merely exchanged as English 
prisoners, and I only thought of rejoining my family 
and friends, of whom I had received no intelligence 
during the last eight months. When I repaired to 
a court which had hitherto only granted me lettres 
de cachet, M. de Poix made me acquainted with all 
the ministers. I was interrogated, complimented^ 
and exiled, but to the good city of Paris ; and the 
residence of the Hotel de Noailles was selected, in- 
stead of according me the horrors of the Bastille, 
which had been at first proposed. Some days after- 
wards, I wrote to the king to acknowledge an error 
of which the termination had been so fortunate : he 
permitted me to receive a gentle reprimand in per- 
son ; and, when my liberty was restored to me, I 
was advised to avoid those places in which the 
public might consecrate my disobedience by its ap- 
probation. On my arrival, I had the honour of 
being consulted by all the ministers, and, what was 
far better, embraced by all the ladies. Those em- 
braces lasted but one day ; but I retained for a 
greater length of time the confidence of the cabinet, 
and I enjoyed both favour at the court of Versailles, 
and popularity at Paris. I was the theme of con- 
versation in every circle, even after the queen's 
kind exertions had obtained for me the regiment of 
the king's dragoons. Times are widely changed ; 

F 2 


but I have retained all that I most valued popular 
favour and the affection of those I love. 

Amidst the various tumultuous scenes that occu- 
pied my mind, I did not forget our revolution, of 
which the ultimate success still appeared uncertain. 
Accustomed to see great interests supported by 
slender means, I often said to myself that the ex- 
pense of one fdle would have organized the army of 
the United States ; and to clothe that army I would 
willingly, according to the expression of M. de 
Maurepas, have unfurnished the palace of Versailles. 
In the meantime, the principal object of the quarrel, 
American independence, and the advantage our 
government and reputation would derive from seiz- 
ing the first favourable opportunity, did not appear 
to me sufficiently promoted by those immense pre- 
parations for trifling conquests, and those projects 
conceived in the expectation of peace ; for no person 
seriously believed in war, not even when it was de- 
clared, after the hundredth injury had induced Spain 
to enter into those co-operations which finally ter- 
minated in nothing more than noisy exercises. 




THE histories of the American war and revolution 
are, generally speaking, very favourable to M. de 
Lafayette ; the life of Washington, by Mr. Marshall, 
is especially so. There is one phrase, however, 
(page 410 of the third volume of the London 
edition,) which requires some explanation. "He 
left France ostensibly in opposition to his sovereign." 
This circumstance is treated in a more lucid and 
exact manner in the following works : The History, 
etc., by William Gordon, D.D., vol. ii., pages 499 and 
500. London, 1788. The History of the American 
Revolution, by Dr. Ramsay, vol. ii., page 11. Phila- 
delphia, 1789. 

The importance of this step was increased by a 
peculiar circumstance. The preparations for the 

* We have already mentioned these manuscripts. The one 
we term Manuscript No. 1, consists of a rapid sketch of the 
American life of General Lafayette ; the other one, or Manu- 
script 2, is entitled, Observations on some portion of the American 
History, by a Friend of General Lafayette. Both appear to have 
been written about the period of the empire. Fragment A is 
drawn from the Manuscript No. 2. 


purchase and equipment of the vessel had delayed 
Lafayette's departure until the period which had 
been long previously fixed upon for an excursion of 
some weeks into England ; this enabled him to con- 
ceal his departure ; the American commissioners 
were well pleased to take advantage of this acci- 
dent. Lafayette refused the proposals which were 
made him in London to visit the ports, or to do 
anything which could be construed into an abuse of 
confidence. He did not conceal his partiality for 
the American insurgents ; but he endeavoured to 
profit by the parade with which, from political mo- 
tives, the king and his ministry received at that 
period all persons coming from the court of France, 
and the attention which was paid them. The Mar- 
quis de Noailles, the ambassador, was his uncle. 
Lafayette felt no scruple in compromising the diplo- 
matic character of this representation of the King 
of France, so that the maximum of the favourable 
effect that his departure could produce was obtained 
in England. 

The same result took place in France. It would 
be difficult at this period to imagine into what a 
state of political and military insignificance the 
nation and government had been -reduced during 
the war of seven years, and, above all, after the 
partition of Poland. The French ministry had 
personally, at that period, the reputation of great 
circumspection; the few indirect relations it per- 
mitted itself to hold with the agents of the insur- 
gent colonies were only managed through the me- 
dium of unacknowledged agents, and were dis- 
covered the moment the ambassador pretended to 
become acquainted with them, or that the Ameri- 
cans could have drawn any advantage from them. 
Amongst the departures on which the ministers 


were kind enough to close their eyes, there were 
only four engineers for whom this toleration was 
in truth a secret mission.* One word from Lord 
Stormont was sufficient to procure the detention, 
discharge, and sometimes imprisonment of the 
Americans admitted into our ports : their liberty 
or property was only restored to them surrepti- 
tiously, and as if escaping from the vigilance of a 

Amidst this labyrinth of precautions, feebleness, 
and denials, the effect may be conceived that was 
produced at Versailles by the bold step taken by a 
youth of distinguished birth and fortune, allied to 
one of the first families of the court, by whom the 
King of England and his ministers would fancy 
themselves braved and even laughed at, and whose 
departure would leave no doubt as to the con- 
nivance of the ambassador and government of 
France. The displeasure of the rulers was roused 
to the highest pitch : a portion of Lafayette's family 
shared in this displeasure. He had secretly tra- 
versed France. Having met near Paris with Car- 
michael, secretary of the American agents, he had 
urged the immediate departure of his vessel from 
Bordeaux, preferring to complete the necessary ar- 
rangements at the Spanish port of Passage. He 
returned himself to Bordeaux, in the hope of ob- 
taining a consent which he considered would be 
useful to his cause. The return of his courier hav- 
ing informed him that they would not condescend 
to give an answer to such an indiscreet request, 
he hastened to quit France himself in the disguise 
of a courier, and lost no time in setting sail. 

The government, to appease as far as possible, 

* MM. de Gouvion, Duportail, Laradiere, and Laumoy. 


the English ambassador, despatched two light vessels 
to the Leeward and Windward Islands to stop La- 
fayette. At that period, the French navigators did 
not risk steering straight towards the American con- 
tinent ; they first repaired to the West Indies, and, 
taking out papers for France, they ranged as close 
as possible to the American coast, and endeavoured 
to seize a favourable moment or pretext to steal into 
a harbour. Lafayette's vessel had followed the com- 
mon course of all expeditions; but its youthful 
owner, who had several officers with him, and had 
won the affection of the crew, obliged the captain to 
take a straightforward direction. A lucky gale of 
wind drove off the frigates that had been cruising 
on the preceding day before Georgetown, and he 
sailed into that port, having been protected by fate 
against the various obstacles which had been op- 
posed to his enterprise. 

But whilst the French government thus seconded 
the views of the English government, the departure 
of young Lafayette produced, in Paris, in the com- 
mercial towns, in all societies, and even at court, a 
sensation that was very favourable to the American 
cause. The enthusiasm it excited was in a great 
measure owing to the state of political stagnation into 
which the country had so long been plunged, the 
resentment excited by the arrogance of England, 
her commissioner at Dunkirk, her naval preten- 
sions, and the love inherent in all mankind of bold 
and extraordinary deeds, especially when they are 
in defiance of the powerful, and to protect the weak 
in their struggle for liberty. To these peculiar cir- 
cumstances may be imputed the increased interest 
and attention, the strong national feeling, and the 
constantly augmenting force of public opinion to 
which the French government at length yielded, 


when, in its treaties with the United States, it 
formed engagements with them, and commenced a 
war with England, which were hoth equally opposed 
to its real character and inclination. 



THE appearance of the two brothers Howe before 
the capes of the Delaware had given rise to the 
supposition that it was upon that side they intended 
to land. General Washington repaired with his 
army towards the neighbourhood of Philadelphia. 
That army had been recruiting during the winter. 
Washington went to Philadelphia to attend a public 
dinner given in honour of him. It was then La- 
fayette was introduced to him. This young foreigner 
had travelled by land over the southern states, and 
had made a direct application to the congress, re- 
questing to serve at first as volunteer, and to serve 
at his own expense. The members were much 
struck with two requests differing so widely from 
those of several other officers, and of one in parti- 
cular, an officer of artillery, who had made great 
pretensions on his arrival, and had soon afterwards 
drowned himself in the Schuylkill. The rank of 
major-general (the highest in the American army) 
was given to Lafayette. Washington received the 
young volunteer in the most friendly manner, and 
invited him to reside in his house as a member of 
his military family, which offer Lafayette accepted 
with the same frankness with which it was made. 


He remained there until he was appointed to the 
command of a division. The court of France had 
required that the American envoys should write to 
America to prevent Lafayette from being employed 
in their army. They did not hasten to despatch 
that letter, and, when its contents became known, 
the popularity of Lafayette was so great that it could 
not produce any effect. It is thus evident, that from 
the first moment of his embracing the American 
cause every obstacle was thrown in his way ; all of 
which, however, he encountered and surmounted. 
(Manuscript No. 1.) 



AMONGST the various means employed to deprive 
the general-in-chief of his friends, attempts were 
made to awaken the ambition of Lafayette, who 
already enjoyed much popularity in the army and 
in the country, and who besides appeared to the 
enemies of Washington, from his relations with 
Europe, one of the men whom it was most impor- 
tant to draw into their party. They fancied they 
should gain him over by offering him the govern- 
ment of the north, which Gates had just quitted, 
and by the hope of an expedition into Canada. 
General Washington received a packet from the mi- 
nister of war, enclosing a commission for Lafayette 
as an independent commander-in-chief, with an order 
to repair to the congress to receive instructions. The 
general placed it in his hands, without allowing 
himself any observation on the subject. Lafayette 


immediately declared to three commissioners of 
congress, who happened to be at that moment in 
the camp, " that he would never accept any com- 
mand independent of the general, and that the title 
of his aide-de-camp appeared to him preferable to 
any other that could be offered him." When General 
Washington received the order of congress, he only 
said to his young friend, whilst placing the letter in 
his hand, " I prefer its being for you rather than 
for any other person. " 

The military commands, during the winter of 
1777 1778, were distributed in the following 
manner : General Washington assembled in some 
huts at Valley-Forge what was termed the principal 
army, reduced at that time to four or five thousand 
half-clothed men General Mac-Dougal had the 
direction of a station at Peekskill. Lafayette com- 
manded what was called the northern army, that is 
to say, a handful of men ; his head-quarters were at 
Albany. The enemy made a few incursions, but of 
slight importance ; and by the exercise of great vigi- 
lance, and a judicious choice of stations, the winter 
passed away tranquilly. Lafayette had under his 
orders two general officers, who had been engaged in 
the service of France, namely, General Kalb, a Ger- 
man by birth, who came over in the same vessel with 
himself; and General Con way, an Irishman, who 
had been a major in a regiment of that nation, also 
in the service of France. Besides the four engineers 
who have been before named, and these two officers, 
we must also mention, amongst the foreigners em- 
ployed in the service of the United States, Pulaski, 
a Polish nobleman, who had taken a conspicuous 
part in the confederation of his own country, and 
who, after the success of the Russians, had arrived 
in America with letters of introduction to the con- 


gress, General Washington, and General Lafayette ; 
Kosciuszko, his countryman, who was a colonel of 
engineers in America, and who afterwards acted 
such a grand and noble part during the last revo- 
lutions in Poland ; Ternant, by birth a Frenchman, 
who has served the United States, Holland, and 
France with great ability ; La Colombe, aide-de- 
camp to Lafayette, who has been subsequently so 
usefully employed in the French revolution ; the 
Marquis de la Royerie, whom disappointed love 
brought to the United States, and who has since 
taken part in the counter-revolution ; Gimat, aide- 
de-camp to Lafayette, who has since had the com- 
mand in the French islands ; Fleury, who distin- 
guished himself in the defence of Fort Mifflin, and 
in the attack of the fort of West-Point, and who 
afterwards died a field-marshal in France ; Mauduit- 
Duplessis, an extremely brave officer of artillery, 
who has since taken part against the French revo- 
lution, and was massacred at Saint Domingo ; Tou- 
zard, an officer of artillery, who lost his arm at 
Rhode Island, where he was acting as aide-de-camp 
to Lafayette ; Major Lenfant, employed as engineer ; 
Baron Steuben, a Prussian officer, a good tactician, 
who arrived at the commencement of 1778, and 
was of essential service in disciplining the Ameri- 
can troops. These officers, and several others, ob- 
tained employment in America. The greatest 
number, however, of those who presented them- 
selves were refused service, and returned to France, 
with some few exceptions, to bear thither their own 
prejudices against the Americans. Some of those 
who remained appear to have written home likewise 
in the same spirit. General Washington therefore 
observes very justly in one of his letters, that La- 
fayette, in his correspondence, by destroying the 


unfavourable impressions that were given of the 
Americans, and seeking, on the contrary, to excite 
the feelings of the French in their favour, rendered 
a new and very important service to their cause. 
(Manuscript No. 1.) 



As the English army was preparing to evacuate 
Philadelphia, Lafayette was sent, with a detachment 
of two thousand chosen men, and five pieces of 
cannon, to a station half-way betwixt that city and 
Valley-Forge ; this was Barren-hill. A corps of 
militia under General Porter had been placed on 
Lafayette's left wing ; but he retired farther back, 
and the English took advantage of that movement to 
sarround Lafayette's detachment. General Grant, 
with seven thousand men and fourteen pieces of 
cannon, was behind him, and nearer than himself 
to the only ford by which it was possible for him to 
pass the Schuylkill. General Grey, with two thou- 
sand men, arrived on his left at Barren-hill church ^ 
whilst the remainder of the English army, under the 
command of Generals Clinton and Howe, prepared 
to attack him in front. It is said that Admiral 
Lord Howe joined the army as a volunteer. The 
English generals felt so certain of the capture of 
Lafayette, that they sent to Philadelphia several 
invitations to a fdte, at which they said Lafayette 
would be present. If he had not, in truth, ma- 
noeuvred rather better than they did, the whole 
corps must inevitably have been lost. Alarm-guns 
were fired by the army ; General Washington felt 


additional anxiety from the fact that, those troops 
being the flower of his army, their defeat would, he 
knew, have discouraged the rest. Lafayette instantly 
formed his plan of operation : he threw some troops 
into the churchyard, to check those of General Grey. 
He made a false attack upon General Grant, shew- 
ing him the heads of columns ; and whilst the 
latter halted, and formed his troops to receive him, 
he caused his detachment to file off. By these 
manoeuvres he gained the ford, and passed it in 
presence of the enemy, without losing a single man. 
Two English lines met, and were on the point of 
attacking each other, for there was no longer any- 
thing between them ; the Americans had been for 
some time in safety at the other side of the Schuyl- 
kill. The English then returned to Philadelphia, 
much fatigued and ashamed, and were laughed at for 
their ill success. (Manuscript No. 1.) 



THE treaty with France became known a short time 
before the opening of the campaign. The national 
enthusiasm for the Americans had much increased, 
but the ministry was afraid of war. Necker, in parti- 
cular, did all he could to prevent the court of France 
from espousing the American cause, which may serve 
as an answer to the accusations of revolutionary 
ardour that were made against him by the aristocrats 
in France. Maurepas was very timid, but the news 
of the taking of Burgoyne inspired him with some 
courage. The Count de Vergennes flattered himself 
that he should succeed in avoiding war. The court 


of France shewed little sincerity in its proceedings 
with England. The treaty was at length concluded. 
Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane, and John Adams, accom- 
panied by many other Americans then in Paris, 
were presented to the King and royal family. They 
repaired afterwards to the young Madame de La- 
fayette, who was at Versailles, wishing to testify by 
that public act how much they thought themselves 
indebted to Lafayette for the happy direction which 
their affairs had taken. The news of the treaty 
excited a great sensation in America, and, above all, 
in the army. Lafayette had long since returned 
from his command in the north to the head-quarters 
of General Washington. The manifesto of the 
French government to the British cabinet contained 
this expression : " The Americans having become 
independent by their declaration of such a day." 
" That," said Lafayette, smiling, " is a principle of 
national sovereignty which shall one day be recalled 
to them." The French revolution, and the part 
which he took in it, have doubly verified this pre- 
diction. (Manuscript No. 1 .) 

Mr. Marshall's work contains a curious disserta- 
tion upon the declaration of war between France and 
England, and gives also the extract of a memorial 
of M. Turgot, which it would be interesting to 
verify. It would then be seen what opinions were 
supported at that time, concerning the colonies in 
general, and the quarrel with the English colonies 
in particular, by one of the most liberal and enlight- 
ened men in regard to political and commercial 
questions. The idea that the queen supported the 
war party is not correct ; her social tastes were 
rather of the Anglomania kind ; her politics were 
completely Austrian, and the court of Vienna did 
not wish that France should have any pretext for 


refusing to fulfil the conditions of the treaty made 
with it, which were soon afterwards exacted ; but 
the queen, like a true woman of the world, followed 
the impulse given by Paris, the commercial towns, 
and the public. 

Dr. Ramsay alludes to the happiness which La- 
fayette must have experienced when, upon learning 
the happy news of the French alliance, he, with tears 
of joy, embraced his illustrious general. Several 
persons present have since recollected that when the 
message of the court of Versailles to that of London 
was read aloud, with all the justifications which 
dwelt upon the right of the American nation to give 
themselves a government, Lafayette exclaimed, 
" That is a great truth which we will recall to them 
at home." (Manuscript No. 2.) 



THE history of Dr. Gordon, that of Ramsay, and 
of Mr. Marshall, give a detailed account of the ar- 
rival of Count d'Estaing at the entrance of the Dela- 
ware, his arrival at Sandyhook, and the expedition 
against Rhode Island. Lafayette conducted thither, 
from White Plains, two thousand men of the con- 
tinental troops. He made that journey (two 
hundred and forty miles) very rapidly, and arrived 
before the remainder of the troops under Sullivan 
were in readiness. It is to be lamented that the latter 
general persuaded Count d'Estaing to await the co- 
operation of the Americans, whilst, had he encou- 
raged him to force the passage between Rhode Island 
and Connecticut Island, he would have had time, at 


the first moment of his arrival, to have captured 
fifteen hundred Hessians who were upon the last- 
mentioned island. On the other hand, M. d'Estaing 
was wrong in being displeased with General Sulli- 
van for effecting his passage and taking possession 
of the forts on the north of the island, as soon as he 
learnt that they had been abandoned by the enemy, 
and without having concerted any plan of operations 
with the admiral. Everything, however, went on 
extremely well. The Americans had twelve thou- 
sand men upon the island ; their right was com- 
posed of the half of the continentalists brought by 
Lafayette from White Plains, and of five thousand 
militia, and was under the command of General 
Greene ; the left consisted also of five thousand 
militia, with the other half of the continentalists, and 
was commanded by M. de Lafayette. On the 8th 
of August the American army proceeded to How- 
land's ferry, whilst the squadron forced the passage. 
The English set fire to three of their own frigates ; 
they had six frigates, and several other vessels, burnt 
during this expedition. In the afternoon of the day 
that Sullivan's army landed, they were expecting 
the battalions of Foix and Hainaut, and the marines, 
which were to have joined Lafayette's corps, when 
Admiral Howe suddenly hove in sight, and took 
possession of the anchorage that Count d'Estaing 
had quitted, in order to force his passage between 
the islands. The French sailors feared that the 
enemy would take advantage of their situation, 
enclosed as they were between the islands, or that 
some reinforcements would at least be thrown 
upon the southern part of the island ; but the wind 
having changed during the night, Count d'Estaing 
sailed out gallantly through the fire of the English 
batteries, and Lord Howe, cutting his cables, fled 

VOL. I. G 


before him. This skilful admiral would have paid 
dearly for his bold manoeuvre, if the storm had not 
come most opportunely to his aid. 

Mr. Marshall, who had the letters of Washington 
and Lafayette before him, states the manner in which 
Lafayette, on the one side, exposed himself, without 
reserve, to the loss of his popularity, and on the 
other, zealously exerted himself in defending the 
honour of the French from the accusations that the 
dissatisfaction of the Americans had universally ex- 
cited, especially at Rhode Island and Boston, against 
the officers of the squadron ; and also to prevent that 
dissatisfaction from breaking into open disputes. 
Sullivan, the senior of the three majors-general, was 
commander-in-chief. It was after an explanation 
with Lafayette, his friend and comrade, that he 
softened, by a subsequent order of the day, the ex- 
pressions which he had imprudently used in the one 
preceding. General Greene, a man of superior 
merit, contributed much to the reconciliation. The 
ex-president, Hancock, who had at first loudly ex- 
pressed his displeasure, consented to repair to Boston 
to endeavour to calm the public mind, and to obtain 
provisions for the squadron. The popularity of 
Lafayette was usefully employed during his short 
visit to that town. The congress, and General 
Washington also, thought that this quarrel could 
not be too speedily appeased ; but they were at a 
distance, and a proper mixture of firmness and per- 
suasion was required from the first moment. Such 
a perfect understanding, however, was now esta- 
blished, that it was not even disturbed by the un- 
fortunate event which, some time afterwards, cost 
M. de Saint Sauveur his life. Much was also 
due to Dr. Cooper, a distinguished minister of the 
Presbyterian church. (Manuscript No. 2.) 




London, March 9, 1777. 

You will be astonished, my dear father, at the 
news I am on the point of giving you : it has cost 
me far more than I can express not to consult you. 
My respect and affection for you, as well as my great 
confidence in you, must convince you of the truth 
of this assertion ; but my word was given, and you 
would not have esteemed me had I broken it ; the 
step I am now taking will at least prove to you, I 
hope, the goodness of my intentions. I have found 
a peculiar opportunity of distinguishing myself, and 
of learning a soldier's trade : I am a general officer 
in the army of the United States of America. The 

* Jean Paul Fra^ois de Noailles, Duke d'Ayen, afterwards 
Duke de Noailles, died a member of the House of Peers, in 
1824, and was, as is well known, father-in-law to M. de La- 
fayette, who had been, we may say, brought up in the hotel 
de Noailles, and who looked upon all his wife's family as his 
own. It was at that time divided into two branches. The 
Marshal de Noailles, governor of Roussillon, and captain of the 
guards of the Scotch company, was the head of the eldest 
branch. He had four children : the Duke d'Ayen, the Marquis 
de Noailles, and Mesdames de Tesse and de Lesparre. The Duke 
d'Ayen, a general officer, captain of the guards in reversion, 
married Henriette Anne Louise Daguesseau, by whom he had 
daughters only. The eldest, who died in 1794, on the same 

G 2 

80 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

events, I must equally have been parted from 
y OU) wandering about in Italy,* dragging on an 
inglorious life, surrounded by the persons most 
opposed to my projects, and to my manner of 
thinking ? All these reflections did not prevent my 
experiencing the most bitter grief when the moment 
arrived for quitting my native shore. Your sorrow, 
that of my friends, Henrietta,! all rushed upon my 
thoughts, and my heart was torn by a thousand 
painful feelings. I could not at that instant find 
any excuse for my own conduct. If you could 
know all that I have suffered, and the melancholy 
days that I have passed, whilst thus flying from all 
that I love best in the world ! Must I join to this 
affliction the grief of hearing that you do not pardon 
me ? I should, in truth, my love, be too unhappy. 
But I am not speaking to you of myself and of my 
health, and I well know that these details will 
deeply interest you. 

Since writing my last letter, I have been confined 
to the most dreary of all regions : the sea is so 
melancholy, that it and I mutually, I believe, 
sadden each other. I ought to have landed by this 
time, but the winds have been most provokingly 
contrary ; I shall not arrive at Charlestown for 
eight or ten days. It will be a great pleasure to me 
to land, as I am expecting to do, in that city. When 
I am once on shore, I shall hope each day to receive 
news from France ; I shall learn so many interest- 
ing things, both concerning the new country I am 

* At the moment when M. de Lafayette's project of departure 
was taking place, he had been desired to join the Duke d'Ayen, 
and Madame de Tesse, his sister, who were setting out for Italy 
and Sicily, 

f The first-born of M. de Lafayette, which died during his 
voyage. (See letter 16th June, 1778.) 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 87 

seeking, and, above all, that home which I have 
quitted with so much regret ! Provided I only learn 
that you are in good health, that you still love 
me, and that a certain number of my friends enter- 
tain the same feelings towards me, I can become 
a perfect philosopher with respect to all the rest, 
whatever it may be, or whatever land it may 
concern. But if my heart be attacked in its most 
vulnerable part, if you were to love me less, I 
should feel, in truth, too miserable. But I need not 
fear this need I, my dearest love ? I was very ill 
during the first part of my voyage, and I might have 
enjoyed the pleasure of an ill-natured person, that 
of knowing that I had many fellow sufferers. I 
treated myself according to my own judgment, and 
recovered sooner than the other passengers ; I am 
now nearly the same as if I were on shore. I 
am certain that, on my arrival, I shall be in a per- 
fect state of health, and continue so for a long time. 
Do not fancy that I shall incur any real gangers by 
the occupations I am undertaking. The post of 
general officer has always been considered like a 
commission for immortality. The service will be 
very different from the one I must have performed 
if I had been, for example, a colonel in the French 
army. My attendance will only be required in the 
council. Ask the opinion of all general officers, 
and these are very numerous, because, having once 
attained that height, they are no longer exposed to 
any hazards, and do not therefore yield their places 
to inferior officers, as is the case in other situations. 
To prove that I do not wish to deceive you, I will 
acknowledge that we are at this moment exposed to 
some danger, from the risk of being attacked by 
English vessels, and that my ship is not of sufficient 
force for defence. But when I have once landed, I 

88 CORRESPONDENCE -1777, 1778. 

shall be in perfect safety. You see that I tell you 
everything, my dearest love ; confide therefore in 
me, and do not, I conjure you, give way to idle 
fears. I will not write you a journal of my voyage : 
days succeed each other, and, what is worse, re- 
semble each other. Always sky, always water, and 
the next day a repetition of the same thing. In truth, 
those who write volumes upon a sea voyage must 
be incessant babblers ; for my part, I have had con- 
trary winds, as well as other people ; I have made 
a long voyage, like other people ; I have encountered 
storms ; I have seen vessels, and they were far more 
interesting for me than for any other person : 
well ! I have not observed one single event worth 
the trouble of relating, or that has not been de- 
scribed by many other persons. 

Let us speak of more important things : of your- 
self, of dear Henriette, and of her brother or sister. 
Henriette is so delightful, that she has made me in 
love with little girls. To whichever sex our new 
infant may belong, I shall receive it with unbounded 
joy. Lose not a moment in hastening my happi- 
ness by apprising me of its birth. I know not if it 
be because I am twice a father, but my parental 
feelings are stronger than they ever were. Mr. 
Deane, and my friend Carmichael, will forward your 
letters, and will, I am sure, neglect nothing to pro- 
mote my happiness as soon as possible. Write, 
and even send me a confidential person, it would 
give me such pleasure to question any one who has 
seen you : Landrin, for example ; in short, whom 
you please. You do not know the warmth and 
extent of my affection, if you fancy that you may 
neglect anything relating to yourself. You will be, 
at first, a long time without hearing from me ; 
but when I am once established you will receive 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 89 

letters constantly, and of a very recent date. 
There is no great difference of time between letters 
from America and letters from Sicily. I own that 
Sicily weighs heavily on my heart. I fancied myself 
near seeing you again ! But let me break off at 
the word Sicily. Adieu, my dearest love ; I shall 
write to you from Charlestown, and write to you 
also before I arrive there. Good night, for the 


7th June. 

I am still floating on this dreary plain, the most 
wearisome of all human habitations. To console 
myself a little, I think of you and of my friends : I 
think of the pleasure of seeing you again. How 
delightful will be the moment of my arrival ! I 
shall hasten to surprise and embrace you. I shall 
perhaps find you with your children. To think, 
only, of that happy moment, is an inexpressible 
pleasure to me ; do not fancy that it is distant ; 
although the time of my absence will appear, I own, 
very long to me, yet we shall meet sooner than you 
can expect. Without being able myself to fix the 
day or the month of our reunion, without being 
aware even of the cause of our absence, the exile 
prescribed by the Duke d'Ayen, until the month of 
January, appeared to me so immeasurably long, that 
I certainly shall not inflict upon myself one of equal 
length. You must acknowledge, my love, that the 
occupation and situation I shall have are very dif- 
ferent from those that were intended for me during 
that useless journey. Whilst defending the liberty 
I adore, I shall enjoy perfect freedom myself : I but 
offer my service to that interesting republic from 
motives of the purest kind, unmixed with ambition 
or private views ; her happiness and my glory are 
my only incentives to the task. I hope that, for my 

90 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

sake, you will become a good American, for that 
feeling" is worthy of every noble heart. The happi- 
ness of America is intimately connected with the 
happiness of all mankind ; she will become the safe 
and respected asylum of virtue, integrity, tolera- 
tion, equality, and tranquil happiness. 

We have occasionally some slight alarms, but, 
with a little skill and good luck, I am certain of 
reaching the port in safety. I am more pleased with 
this prospect, because I feel that I am becoming, 
every day, extremely reasonable. You know that 
the viscount* has the habit of repeating, that " tra- 
velling forms young men ;" if he said this but once 
every morning and once every evening, in truth it 
would not be too much, for I am constantly more 
strongly impressed with the justice of the observa- 
tion. I know not where the poor viscount is at this 
present moment, nor the prince,f nor all my other 
friends. This state of uncertainty is a very painful 
one. Whenever you chance to meet any one whom 
I love, tell him a thousand and ten thousand things 
from me. Embrace tenderly my three sisters, and 
tell them that they must remember me, and love 
me ; present my compliments to Mademoiselle 
Marin ;J I recommend, also, poor Abbe' Fayon to 
your care. As to the Marshal de Noailles, tell him 
that I do not write to him, for fear of tiring him, and 
because I should have nothing to announce to him 
but my arrival ; that I am expecting his commis- 

* The Viscount de Noailles, brother-in-law to M. de La- 

f The Prince de Poix, son of the Marshal de Mouchy, and 
consequently uncle, according to the mode of Bretagne, to Ma- 
dame de Lafayette. 

J Mademoiselle Marin was governess to Mesdemoiselles de 
Noailles ; and the Abbe Fayon was tutor to M. de Lafayette. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 91 

sions for trees or plants, or whatever else he may de- 
sire, and that I should wish my exactness in fulfilling 
his wishes to be a proof of my affection for him. Pre- 
sent, also, my respects to the Duchess de la Tre- 
moille,* and tell her that I make the same offer to 
her as to the Marshal de Noailles, either for herself 
or her daughter-in-law, who has such a beautiful 
garden. Tell my old friend Desplaus,f also, that I 
am well. As to my aunts, Madame d'Ayen and the 
viscountess, I am myself writing to them. 

These are my little commissions, my love ; I have 
also written to Sicily. We have seen, to-day, 
several kinds of birds, which announce that we are 
not far from shore. The hope of arriving is very 
sweet, for a ship life is a most wearisome one. My 
health, fortunately, allows me to occupy myself a 
little ; I divide my time between military books and 
English books. I have made some progress in this 
language, which will become very necessary to me. 
Adieu ; night obliges me to discontinue my letter, 
as I have forbidden, some days since, any candles 
being used in my vessel : see how prudent I have 
become ! Once more, adieu ; if my fingers be at 
all guided by my heart, it is not necessary to see 
clearly to tell you that I love you, and that I shall 
love you all my life. 

* Madame de Lafayette, author of the Princess de Cleves, 
had only one daughter, who became Madame de la Tremoille, 
and heiress to the property of the Lafayette family ; and who 
cheerfully consented to restore to her cousins, who inhabited the 
province, those estates which a love of their family might make 
them wish to conserve to the heritors of the name of Lafayette. 
Since that period, the members of that branch, of which 
M. de Lafayette was the last scion, have constantly kept up 
feelings, not only of relationship, but of friendship, with the 
family of la Tremoille. 

An old valet de chambre. 


15th June At Major Hughes's.* 
I have arrived, my dearest love, in perfect health, 
at the house of an American officer; and, hy the most 
fortunate chance in the world, a French vessel is on 
the point of sailing ; conceive how happy I am. I 
am going this evening to Charlestown, from whence 
I will write to you. There is no important news. 
The campaign is opened, but there is no fighting, or 
at least, very little. The manners in this part of 
the world are simple, polite, and worthy in every 
respect of the country in which the noble name of 
liberty is constantly repeated. I intended writing 
to Madame d'Ayen, but I find it is impossible. 
Adieu, adieu, my love. From Charlestown I shall 
repair, by land, to Philadelphia, to rejoin the army. 
Is it not true that you will always love me ? 


June 19th, 1777, Charlestown. 

IF my last letter, my dearest love, written five or six 
days ago, was closed hastily, I hope at least that the 
American captain, whom I then believed to be a 
French one, will remit it to you as soon as possible. 
That letter announced to you that I had landed 
safely in this country, after having suffered a little 
from sea-sickness during the first weeks of my 
voyage ; that I was staying with a very kind officer, 
in whose house I was received upon my arrival; 
that I had been nearly two months at sea, and was 

-n-A ;-flo;o* te&\ ^ : ; 

* The father of him who so generously devoted himself to 
save Lafayette from the prisons of Olmutz. (Note of M. de 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 93 

anxious to continue my journey immediately ; that 
letter spoke of everything which interests my heart 
most deeply, of my regret at having quitted you, of 
your pregnancy, and of our dear children ; it told 
you, also, that I was in perfect health. I repeat 
this extract from it, because the English may very 
possibly amuse themselves by seizing it on its way. 
I place, however, so much confidence in my lucky 
star, that I hope it will reach you safely. That same 
Star has protected me to the astonishment of every 
person ; you may, therefore, trust a little to it in 
future, my love, and let this conviction tranquillize 
your fears. I landed after having sailed for several 
days along a coast swarming with hostile vessels. 
On my arrival here every one told me that my ship 
must undoubtedly be taken, because two English 
frigates had blockaded the harbour. I even sent, 
both by land and sea, orders to the captain to put 
the men on shore, and burn the vessel, if he had 
still the power of doing so. Well ! by a most extra- 
ordinary piece of good fortune, a sudden gale of 
wind having blown away the frigates for a short 
time, my vessel arrived at noon-day, without having 
encountered friend or foe. At Charlestown I have 
met with General Howe, a general officer, now en- 
gaged in service. The governor of the state is 
expected this evening from the country. All the 
persons with whom I wished to be acquainted have 
shewn me the greatest attention and politeness (not 
European politeness merely) ; I can only feel grati- 
tude for the reception I have met with, although I 
have not yet thought proper to enter into any detail 
respecting my future prospects and arrangements. 
I wish to see the congress first. I hope to set out 
in two days for Philadelphia, which is a land journey 
of more than two hundred and fifty leagues. We 

94 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

shall divide into small parties ; I have already pur- 
chased horses and light carriages for this purpose. 
There are some French and American vessels at 
present here, who are to sail out of the harbour in 
company to-morrow morning, taking advantage of 
a moment when the frigates are out of sight : they 
are numerous and armed, and have promised me to 
defend themselves stoutly against the small privateers 
they will undoubtedly meet with. I shall distribute 
my letters amongst the different ships, in case any. 
accident should happen to either one of them. 

I shall now speak to you, my love, about the 
country and its inhabitants, who are as agreeable as 
my enthusiasm had led me to imagine. Simplicity 
of manner, kindness of heart, love of country and of 
liberty, and a delightful state of equality, are met 
with universally. The richest and the poorest man 
are completely on a level; and although there are 
some immense fortunes in this country, I may chal- 
lenge any one to point out the slightest difference 
in their respective manner towards each other. I 
first saw and judged of a country life at Major 
Hughes 's house : I am at present in the city, where 
everything somewhat resembles the English customs, 
except that you find more simplicity here than you 
would do in England. Charlestown is one of the 
best built, handsomest, and most agreeable cities 
that I have ever seen. The American women are 
very pretty, and have great simplicity of character ; 
and the extreme neatness of their appearance is truly 
delightful : cleanliness is everywhere even more 
studiously attended to here than in England. 
What gives me most pleasure is to see how com- 
pletely the citizens are all brethren of one family. 
In America there are none poor, and none even 
that can be called peasants. Each citizen has some 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 95 

property, and all citizens have the same rights as 
the richest individual, or landed proprietor, in the 
country. The inns are very different from those of 
Europe ; the host and hostess sit at table with you, 
and do the honours of a comfortable meal ; and when 
you depart, you pay your bill without being obliged 
to tax it. If you should dislike going to inns, you 
may always find country houses in which you will 
be received, as a good American, with the same 
attention that you might expect in a friend's house 
in Europe. 

My own reception has been most peculiarly agree- 
able. To have been merely my travelling com- 
panion, suffices to secure the kindest welcome. I 
have just passed five hours at a large dinner given in 
compliment to me by an individual of this town. Ge- 
nerals Howe and Moultrie, and several officers of my 
suite, were present. We drank each other's health, 
and endeavoured to talk English, which I am begin- 
ning to speak a little. I shall pay a visit to-morrow, 
with these gentlemen, to the governor of the state, 
and make the last arrangements for my departure. 
The next day, the commanding officers here will take 
me to see the town and its environs, and I shall then 
set out to join the army. I must close and send my 
letter immediately, because the vessel goes to-night 
to the entrance of the harbour, and sails to-morrow 
at five o'clock. As all the ships are exposed to some 
risk, I shall divide my letters amongst them. I 
write to M M. de Coigny, de Poix, de Noailles, de 
Segur, and to Madame d'Ayen.* If either of these 

* The Viscount de Coigny, son of the last marshal of that 
name, was the intimate friend of M. de Lafayette in his youth. 
He died young, perhaps even during this voyage. (See the 
letters of January the 6th, and February 13th, 1778.) The 
Count de Segur, who had married the sister of the Duchess 

94 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

shall divide into small parties ; I have already pur- 
chased horses and light carriages for this purpose. 
There are some French and American vessels at 
present here, who are to sail out of the harbour in 
company to-morrow morning, taking advantage of 
a moment when the frigates are out of sight : they 
are numerous and armed, and have promised me to 
defend themselves stoutly against the small privateers 
they will undoubtedly meet with. I shall distribute 
my letters amongst the different ships, in case any. 
accident should happen to either one of them. 

I shall now speak to you, my love, about the 
country and its inhabitants, who are as agreeable as 
my enthusiasm had led me to imagine. Simplicity 
of manner, kindness of heart, love of country and of 
liberty, and a delightful state of equality, are met 
with universally. The richest and the poorest man 
are completely on a level ; and although there are 
some immense fortunes in this country, I may chal- 
lenge any one to point out the slightest difference 
in their respective manner towards each other. I 
first saw and judged of a country life at Major 
Hughes 's house : I am at present in the city, where 
everything somewhat resembles the English customs, 
except that you find more simplicity here than you 
would do in England. Charlestown is one of the 
best built, handsomest, and most agreeable cities 
that I have ever seen. The American women are 
very pretty, and have great simplicity of character ; 
and the extreme neatness of their appearance is truly 
delightful: cleanliness is everywhere even more 
studiously attended to here than in England. 
What gives me most pleasure is to see how com- 
pletely the citizens are all brethren of one family. 
In America there are none poor, and none even 
that can be called peasants. Each citizen has some 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 95 

property, and all citizens have the same rights as 
the richest individual, or landed proprietor, in the 
country. The inns are very different from those of 
Europe ; the host and hostess sit at tahle with you, 
and do the honours of a comfortable meal ; and when 
you depart, you pay your bill without being obliged 
to tax it. If you should dislike going to inns, you 
may always find country houses in which you will 
be received, as a good American, with the same 
attention that you might expect in a friend's house 
in Europe. 

My own reception has been most peculiarly agree- 
able. To have been merely my travelling com- 
panion, suffices to secure the kindest welcome. I 
have just passed five hours at a large dinner given in 
compliment to me by an individual of this town. Ge- 
nerals Howe and Moultrie, and several officers of my 
suite, were present. We drank each other's health, 
and endeavoured to talk English, which I am begin- 
ning to speak a little. I shall pay a visit to-morrow, 
with these gentlemen, to the governor of the state, 
and make the last arrangements for my departure. 
The next day, the commanding officers here will take 
me to see the town and its environs, and I shall then 
set out to join the army. I must close and send my 
letter immediately, because the vessel goes to-night 
to the entrance of the harbour, and sails to-morrow 
at five o'clock. As all the ships are exposed to some 
risk, I shall divide my letters amongst them. I 
write to M M. de Coigny, de Poix, de Noailles, de 
Segur, and to Madame d'Ayen.* If either of these 

* The Viscount de Coigny, son of the last marshal of that 
name, was the intimate friend of M. de Lafayette in his youth. 
He died young, perhaps even during this voyage. (See the 
letters of January the 6th, and February 13th, 1778.) The 
Count de Segur, who had married the sister of the Duchess 

96 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

should not receive my letter, be so kind as to men- 
tion this circumstance. 

From the agreeable life I lead in this country, from 
the sympathy which makes me feel as much at ease 
with the inhabitants as if I had known them for 
twenty years, the similarity between their manner of 
thinking and of my own, my love of glory and of 
liberty, you might imagine that I am very happy : 
but you are not with me, my dearest love ; my 
friends are not with me ; and there is no happiness 
for me when far from you and them. I often ask 
you if you still love, but I put that question still 
more often to myself and my heart ever answers, 
yes : I trust that heart does not deceive me. I am 
inexpressibly anxious to hear from you ; I hope to 
find some letters at Philadelphia. My only fear is 
that the privateer which was to bring them to me 
should have been captured on her way. Although 
I can easily imagine that I have excited the especial 
displeasure of the English, by taking the liberty of 
coming hither in spite of them, and landing before 
their very face, yet I must confess that we shall be 
even more than on a par if they succeed in catching 
that vessel, the object of my fondest hopes, by which 
I am expecting to receive your letters. I entreat 
you to send me both long and frequent letters. You 
are not sufficiently conscious of the joy with which 
I shall receive them. Embrace, most tenderly, 
my Henriette : may I add, embrace our children ? 
The father of those poor children is a wanderer, 
but he is, nevertheless, a good, honest man, a 
good father, warmly attached to his family, and 

d'Ayen, and who was. therefore, the uncle of M. de Lafayette, 
continued, to the last, his friend. (See the memoirs published 
before his death, which occurred in 1830.) 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 97 

a good husband also, for he loves his wife most 
tenderly. Present my compliments to your friends 
and to mine ; may I not say our friends? with the per- 
mission of the Countess Auguste and Madame de 
Fronsac.* By my friends, you know that I mean 
my own dear circle, formerly of the court, and 
which afterwards became the society of the wooden 
sword ;f we republicans like it the better for the 
change. This letter will be given you by a French 
captain, who, I think, will deliver it into your own 
hands ; but I must confide to you that I have an 
agreeable anticipation for to-morrow, which is to 
write to you by an American, who will sail on 
the same day, but at a later hour. Adieu, then, 
my dearest love ; I must leave off for want of time 
and paper ; and if I do not repeat ten thousand times 
that I love you, it is not from want of affection, but 
from my having the vanity to hope that I have 
already convinced you of it. The night is far ad- 
vanced, the heat intense, and I am devoured by 
gnats ; but the best countries, as you perceive, 
have their inconveniences. Adieu, my love, adieu. 


Petersburg, July ]7th, 1777. 

I AM very happy, my dearest love, if the word hap- 
piness can truly be applied to me, whilst I am se- 
parated from all I love; there is a vessel on the 

* The Countess Auguste d'Aremberg, the wife of Count de 
Lamark, the friend of Mirabeau, and the Duchess de Fronsac, 
daughter-in-law to the Marshal de Richelieu. 

f A society of young men, who first assembled at Versailles, 
and afterwards at an inn at Paris (Note by M. de Lafayette.) 

VOL. I. H 

98 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

pointof sailingfor France, andlam enabled to tell you, 
before setting out for Philadelphia, that I love you, 
my dearest life, and that you may be perfectly tranquil 
respecting my health. I bore the fatigue of the 
journey without suffering from it ; although the 
land expedition was long and wearisome, yet the 
confinement of my melancholy ship was far more so. 
I am now eight days' journey from Philadelphia, in 
the beautiful state of Virginia. All fatigue is over, and 
I fear that my martial labours will be very light, if 
it be true that General Howe has left New York, to 
go I know not whither. But all the accounts I re- 
ceive are so uncertain, that I cannot form any fixed 
opinion until I reach my destination ; from thence, 
my love, I shall write you a long letter. You must 
already have received four letters from me, if they 
have not fallen into the hands of the English. I 
have received no news of you, and my impatience 
to arrive at Philadelphia to hear from you cannot 
be compared to any other earthly feeling. Conceive 
the state of my mind, after having passed such an 
immense length of time without having received a 
line from any friend ! I hope all this will soon end, 
for I cannot live in such a state of uncertainty. I 
have undertaken a task which is, in truth, beyond 
my power, for my heart was not formed for so much 

You must have learnt the particulars of the com- 
mencement of my journey: you know that I set 
out in a brilliant manner in a carriage, and I must 
now tell you that we are all on horseback, having 
broken the carriage, according to my usual praise- 
worthy custom, and I hope soon to write to you 
that we have arrived on foot. The journey is some- 
what fatiguing ; but although several of my com- 
rades have suffered a great deal, I have scarcely 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 99 

myself been conscious of fatigue. The captain who 
takes charge of this letter will, perhaps, pay you a 
visit ; I beg you in that case to receive him with 
great kindness. 

I scarcely dare think of the time of your confine- 
ment, and yet I think of it every moment of the 
day. I cannot dwell upon it without the most 
dreadful anxiety. I am, indeed, unfortunate, at 
being so distant from you ; even if you did not love 
me, you ought to pity me ; but you do love me, 
and we shall mutually render each other happy. 
This little note will be short in comparison to the 
volumes I have already sent you, but you shall re- 
ceive another letter in a few days from me. 

The farther I advance to the north, the better 
pleased am I with the country and inhabitants. 
There is no attention or kindness that I do not re- 
ceive, although many scarcely know who I am. 
But I will write all this to you more in detail from 
Philadelphia. I have only time to intreat you, my 
dearest love, not to forget an unhappy man, who 
pays most dearly for the error he committed in 
parting from you, and who never felt before how 
tenderly he loved you. 

My respectful compliments to Madame d'Ayen, 
and my affectionate regards to my sisters. Tell M. 
de Coigny and M. de Poix that I am in good health, 
in case some letters should miscarry which I shall 
send by another opportunity, by which I shall also 
send a line to you, although I do not consider it so 
secure as this one. 

100 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 


July 23rd, 1777. 

I AM always meeting, my dearest love, with oppor- 
tunities of sending letters ; I have this time only a 
quarter of an hour to give you. The vessel is on 
the point of sailing, and I can only announce to you 
my safe arrival at Annapolis, forty leagues from 
Philadelphia. I can tell you nothing of the town, 
for, as I alighted from my horse, I armed myself 
with a little weapon dipt in invisible ink. You 
must already have received five letters from me, un- 
less King George should have received some of 
them. The last one was despatched three days 
since ; in it I announced to you that my health was 
perfectly good, and had not been even impaired by 
my anxiety to arrive at Philadelphia. I have re- 
ceived bad news here ; Ticonderoga, the strongest 
American post, has been forced by the enemy ; this 
is very unfortunate, and we must endeavour to repair 
the evil. Our troops have taken, in retaliation, an 
English general officer, near New York. I am each 
day more miserable from having quitted you, my 
dearest love ; I hope to receive news of you at Phila- 
delphia, and this hope adds much to the impatience 
I feel to arrive in that city. Adieu, my life ; I am 
in such haste that I know not what I write, but I do 
know that I love you more tenderly than ever ; that 
the pain of this separation was necessary to convince 
me how very dear you are to me, and that I would 
give at this moment half my existence for the plea- 
sure of embracing you again, and telling you with 
my own lips how well I love you. My respects to 
Madame d'Ayen, my compliments to the viscountess, 
my sisters, and all my friends : to you only have I 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 101 

time to write. O ! if you knew how much I sigh 
to see you, how much I suffer at being separated 
from you, and all that my heart has been called on 
to endure, you would think me somewhat worthy of 
your love ! I have left no space for Henriette ; may 
I say for my children? Give them an hundred 
thousand embraces ; I shall most heartily share 
them with you. 


Philadelphia, September 12th, 1777. 

I WRITE you a line, my dearest love, by some 
French officers, my friends, who embarked with 
me, but, not having received any appointment in 
the American army, are returning to France. I 
must begin by telling you that I am perfectly well, 
because I must end by telling you that we fought 
seriously last night, and that we were not the 
strongest on the field of battle. Our Americans, 
after having stood their ground for some time, ended 
at length by being routed : whilst endeavouring to 
rally them, the English honoured me with a musket 
ball, which slightly wounded me in the leg, but U 
is a trifle, my dearest love ; the ball touched neither 
bone nor nerve, and I have escaped with the obli- 
gation of lying on my back for some time, which 
puts me much out of humour. I hope that you 
will feel no anxiety ; this event ought, on the con- 
trary, rather to reassure you, since I am incapacitated 
from appearing on the field for some time : I have 
resolved to take great care of myself ; be convinced 
of this, my love. This affair, will, I fear, be at- 
tended with bad consequences for America. We 

102 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

will endeavour, if possible, to repair the evil. You 
must have received many letters from me, unless 
the English be equally ill-disposed towards my 
epistles as towards my legs. I have not yet re- 
ceived one letter, and I am most impatient to hear 
from you. Adieu ; I am forbidden to write longer. 
For several days I have not had time to sleep. 
Our retreat, and my journey hither, took up the 
whole of last night ; I am perfectly well taken care of 
in this place. Tell all my friends that I am in good 
health. My tender respects to Madame d'Ayen. 
A thousand compliments to the viscountess and my 
sisters. The officers will soon set out. They will 
see you ; what pleasure ! Good night, my dearest 
life ! I love you better than ever. 


October 1st, 1777. 

I WROTE to you, my dearest love, the 12th of Sep- 
tember ; the twelfth was the day after the eleventh, 
and I have a little tale to relate to you concerning 
that eleventh day. To render my action more me- 
ritorious, I might tell you that prudent reflections 
induced me to remain for some weeks in my bed, 
safe sheltered from all danger ; but I must acknow- 
ledge that I was encouraged to take this measure by 
a slight wound, which I met with I know not how, 
for I did not, in truth, expose myself to peril. It 
was the first conflict at which I had been present ; 
so you see how very rare engagements are. It will 
be the last of this campaign, or, in all probability, at 
least, the last great battle ; and if anything should 
occur, you see that I could not myself be present. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 103 

You may, therefore, my love, feel perfectly se- 
cure, I have much pleasure in thus reassuring you. 
While I am desiring you not to be alarmed on 
my account, I repeat to myself that you love me ; 
and this little conversation with my own heart is 
inexpressibly delightful to me, for I love you more 
tenderly than I have ever done before. 

My first occupation was to write to you the day 
after that affair : I told you that it was a mere trifle, 
and I was right ; all I fear is that you should not 
have received my letter. As General Howe is 
giving, in the meantime, rather pompous details of 
his American exploits to the king his master, if he 
should write word that I am wounded, he may also 
write word that I am killed, which would not cost 
him anything ; but I hope that my friends, and you 
especially, will not give faith to the reports of those 
persons who last year dared to publish that General 
Washington, and all the general officers of his army, 
being in a boat together, had been upset, and every 
individual drowned. But let us speak about the 
wound : it is only a flesh-wound, and has neither 
touched bone nor nerve. The surgeons are asto- 
nished at the rapidity with which it heals ; they are 
in an ecstasy of joy each time they dress it, and pre- 
tend it is the finest thing in the world : for my part, 
I think it most disagreeable, painful, and wearisome ; 
but tastes often differ : if a man, however, wished 
to be wounded for his amusement only, he should 
come and examine how I have been struck, that he 
might be struck precisely in the same manner. This, 
my dearest love, is what I pompously style my 
wound, to give myself airs, and render myself inter- 


I must now give you your lesson, as wife of an 
American general officer. They will say to you, 

104 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

" They have been beaten :" you must answer, 
" That is true ; but when two armies of equal num- 
ber meet in the field, old soldiers have naturally the 
advantage over new ones ; they have, besides, had 
the pleasure of killing a great many of the enemy, 
many more than they have lost." They will after- 
wards add : " All that is very well ; but Philadelphia 
is taken, the capital of America, the rampart of li- 
berty!" You must politely answer, "You are all 
great fools ! Philadelphia is a poor forlorn town, 
exposed on every side, whose harbour was already 
closed; though the residence of congress lent it, I 
know not why, some degree of celebrity. This is the 
famous city which, be it added, we will, sooner or 
later, make them yield back to us." If they con- 
tinue to persecute you with questions, you may send 
them about their business in terms which the Vis- 
count de Noailles will teach you, for I cannot lose 
time by talking to you of politics. 

I have delayed writing your letter till the last, in the 
hope of receiving one from you, answering it, and 
giving you the latest intelligence of my health ; but 
1 am told, if I do not send immediately to congress, 
twenty-five leagues from hence, my captain will 
have set out, and I shall lose the opportunity of 
writing to you. This is the cause of my scrawl 
being more unintelligible than usual ; however, if I 
were to send you anything but an hurried scrawl, I 
ought, in that case, to beg your pardon, from the 
singularity of the case. Recollect, my dearest love, 
that I have only once heard of you, from Count 
Pulaski. I am much provoked, and am very miser- 
able. Imagine how dreadful it is to be far from 
all I love, in this state of suspense and almost de- 
spair; it is impossible to support it ; and I feel, at the 
same time, that I do not deserve to be pitied. Why 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 105 

was I so obstinately bent on coming hither ? I have 
been well punished for my error ; my affections are 
too strongly rooted for me to be able to perform such 
deeds. I hope you pity me ; if you knew all I 
suffer, especially at this moment, when everything 
concerning you is so deeply interesting ! I cannot, 
without shuddering, think of this. I am told that 
a parcel has arrived from France ; I have despatched 
expresses on every road and in every corner ; I have 
sent an officer to congress ; I am expecting him 
every day, and you may conceive with what feelings 
of intense anxiety. My surgeon is also very anxi- 
ous for his arrival, for this suspense keeps my blood 
in a state of effervescence, and he would fain re- 
quire that it should flow calmly. O, my dearest 
life, if I receive good news from you, and all I love, 
if those delightful letters arrive to-day, how 
happy I shall be ! but with what agitation, also, I 
shall open them ! 

Be perfectly at ease about my wound ; all the 
faculty in America are engaged in my service. I 
have a friend, who has spoken to them in such a 
manner that I am certain of being well attended to ; 
that friend is General Washington. This excel- 
lent man, whose talents and virtues I admired, and 
whom I have learnt to revere as I know him better, 
has now become my intimate friend : his affectionate 
interest in ine instantly won my heart. I am esta- 
blished in his house, and we live together like two 
attached brothers, with mutual confidence and cor- 
diality. This friendship renders me as happy as I 
can possibly be in this country. When he sent his 
best surgeon to me, he told him to take charge of 
me as if I were his son, because he loved me with 
the same affection. Having heard that I wished to 

106 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

rejoin the army too soon, he wrote me a letter full 
of tenderness, in which he requested me to attend 
to the perfect restoration of my health. I give you 
these details, my dearest love, that you may feel 
quite certain of the care that is taken of me. 
Amongst the French officers, who have all expressed 
the warmest interest for me, M. de Gimat, my aide-de- 
camp, has followed me about like my shadow, both 
before and since the battle, and has given me every 
possible proof of attachment. You may thus feel 
quite secure on this account, both for the present 
and for the future. 

All the foreigners who are in the army, for I do 
not speak only of those who have not been employed, 
and who, on their return to France, will naturally 
give an unjust account of America, because the dis- 
contented, anxious to revenge their fancied injuries, 
cannot be impartial, all the foreigners, I say, who 
have been employed here are dissatisfied, complain, 
detest others, and are themselves detested : they do 
not understand why I am the only stranger beloved 
in America, and I cannot understand why they are 
so much hated. In the midst of the disputes and 
dissensions common to all armies, especially when 
there are officers of various nations, I, for my part, 
who am an easy and a good-tempered man, am so for- 
tunate as to be loved by all parties, both foreigners 
and Americans : I love them all I hope I deserve 
their esteem ; and we are perfectly satisfied the 
one with the other. I am at present in the soli- 
tude of Bethlehem, which the Abbe Raynal has de- 
scribed so minutely. This establishment is a very 
interesting one ; the fraternity lead an agreeable and 
very tranquil life : we will talk over all this on my 
return; and I intend to weary those I love, yourself, 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 107 

of course, in the first place, by the relation of my 
adventures, for you know that I was always a great 

You must become a prattler also, my love, and 
say many things for me to Henriette my poor little 
Henriette ! embrace her a thousand times talk of 
me to her, but do not tell her all I deserve to suffer ; 
my punishment will be, not to be recognised by her 
on my arrival ; that is the penance Henriette will 
impose on me. Has she a brother or a sister ? the 
choice is quite indifferent to me, provided I have a 
second time the pleasure of being a father, and that 
I may soon learn that circumstance. If I should 
have a son, I will tell him to examine his own heart 
carefully ; and if that heart should be a tender 
one, if he should have a wife whom he loves as I 
love you, in that case I shall advise him not to give 
way to feelings of enthusiasm, which would separate 
him from the object of his affection, for that affec- 
tion will afterwards give rise to a thousand dreadful 

I am writing, by a different opportunity, to vari- 
ous persons, and also to yourself. I think this letter 
will arrive first ; if this vessel should accidentally 
arrive, and the other one be lost, I have given the 
viscount a list of the letters I have addressed to 
him. 1 forgot to mention my aunts ;* give them 
news of me as soon as this reaches you. I have 
made no duplicata for you, because I write to you 
by every opportunity. Give news of me, also, to 
M. Margelay,t the Abbe* Fay on, and Desplaces. 

* Madame de Chavaniac and Madame de Motier, sisters of 
General Lafayette's father. 

f An ancient officer, to whom M. de Lafayette was confided, on 
leaving college, as to a governor. 

108 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

A thousand tender regards to my sisters ; I permit 
them to despise me as an infamous deserter but they 
must also love me at the same time. My respects to 
Madame la Comtesse Auguste, and Madame de 
Fronsac. If my grandfather's letters should not 
reach him, present to him my respectful and affec- 
tionate regards. Adieu, adieu, my dearest life; con- 
tinue to love me, for I love you most tenderly. 

Present my compliments to Dr. Franklin and Mr. 
Deane ; I wished to write to them, but cannot find 



Whitemarsh Camp, October 24, 1777. 

SIR, You were formerly annoyed, much against 
my wish, by the part you were called upon to take 
in" my first projects ; you will, perhaps, also feel 
annoyed by the attention I take the liberty of re- 
questing you to give to the objects I have at pre- 
sent in view. They may appear to you as little 
worthy as the first of occupying your valuable time ; 
but in this case, as in the previous one, my good 
intentions (even should they be ill-directed) may 
serve as my apology. My age might also, perhaps, 
have been one, formerly ; I only request now that it 
may not prevent you from taking into consideration 
whether my opinions be rational. 

I do not permit myself to examine what succour 
the glorious cause we are defending in America may 
have received ; but my love for my own country 
makes me observe, with pleasure, under how many 
points of view the vexations of the family of Eng- 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 109 

land may be advantageous to her. There is, above 
all, one' project which, in every case, and at all 
events, would present, I think, rational hopes of at- 
taining any useful end, in exact proportion to the 
means employed in its execution ; I allude to an 
expedition of greater or less importance against the 
East Indies ; and I should fear to injure the cause by 
proposing myself to take charge of it. 

Without pretending to the art of prophecy in re- 
lation to present events, but convinced in the sin- 
cerity of my heart that to injure England would be 
serving (shall I say revenging?) my country, I believe 
that this idea would powerfully excite the energy 
of each individual bearing the honourable name of 
Frenchman. I came hither without permission ; I 
have obtained no approbation but that which may 
be implied by silence ; I might also undertake an- 
other little voyage without having been authorized 
by government : if the success be uncertain, I should 
have the advantage of exposing only myself to 
danger, and what should, therefore, prevent my 
being enterprising ? If I could but succeed in the 
slightest degree, a flame kindled on the least im- 
portant establishment of England, even if part of 
my own fortune were to be consumed also, would 
satisfy my heart by awakening hopes for a more 
propitious hour. 

Guided by the slight knowledge which my igno- 
rance has been able to obtain, I shall now state in 
what manner, Sir, I would undertake this enter- 
prise. An American patent, to render my move- 
ments regular, the trifling succours by which it 
might be sustained, the assistance I might obtain at 
the French islands, the speculations of some mer- 
chants, the voluntary aid of a few of my fellow 

110 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

comrades, such are the feeble resources which 
would enable me to land peacefully on the Isle of 
France. I should there find, I believe, privateers 
ready to assist me, and men to accompany me in 
sufficient numbers to lie in wait for the vessels re- 
turning from China, which would offer me a fresh 
supply of force, sufficient perhaps to enable me to 
fall upon one or two of their factories, and destroy 
them before they could be protected. With an aid, 
which I dare scarcely hope would be granted me, 
and, above all, with talents which I am far from 
having yet acquired, might not some advantage be 
taken of the jealousy of the different nabobs, the 
hatred of the Mahrattas, the venality of the sepoys, 
and the effeminacy of the English ? Might not the 
crowd of Frenchmen dispersed at present on that 
coast be employed with advantage in the cause ? 
As to myself personally, in any case, the fear of 
compromising my own country would prevent my 
acknowledging the pride I feel in being her son, 
even as the nobility in some provinces occasionally 
lay aside their marks of distinction to reassume them 
at a later period. 

Although by no means blind as to the impru- 
dence of the step, I would have hazarded this enter- 
prise alone, if the fear of injuring the interests I wish 
to serve, by not sufficiently understanding them, or 
of proving a detriment to some better-concerted ex- 
pedition, had not arrested my intended movements ; 
for I have the vanity to believe that a project of this 
kind may one day be executed on a grander scale, 
and by far abler hands, than mine. Even now it 
might be executed in a manner that would, I think, 
insure success, if I could hope to receive from the 
government, not an order, not succours, not mere 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. Ill 

indifference, but I know scarcely what, which. I 
can find no language to express with sufficient 

In this case, an order from the king, should he 
deign to restore me for some time to my friends and 
family, without prohibiting my return hither, would 
give me a hint to prepare myself with American 
continental commissions ; some preparations and 
instructions from France might also precede that 
pretended return, and conduct me straight to 
the East Indies : the silence which was formerly 
perhaps an error, would then become a sacred 
duty, and would serve to conceal my true destina- 
tion, and above all the sort of approbation it might 

Such, Sir, are the ideas that, duly impressed with 
a sense of my incapacity and youth, I presume to 
submit to your better judgment, and, if you should 
think favourably of them, to the various modifi- 
cations to which you may conceive them liable ; I 
am certain, at least, that they cannot be deemed 
ridiculous, because they are inspired by a laudable 
motive the love of my country. I only ask for 
the honour of serving her under other colours, and 
I rejoice at seeing her interest united to that of the 
republicans for whom I am combating ; earnestly 
hoping, however, that I shall soon be allowed to 
fight under the French banner. A commission of 
grenadier in the king's army would, in that case, be 
more agreeable to me than the highest rank in a 
foreign army. 

I reproach myself too much, Sir, for thus offering 
you my undigested ideas regarding Asia, to heighten 
my offence by presumptuously tracing a plan of 
America, embellished with my own reflections, 

112 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

which you do not require, and have not asked for : 
the zeal which led me hither, and, above all, the 
friendship which unites me to the general-in-chief, 
would render me liable to the accusation of par- 
tiality, from which feeling I flatter myself I am 
wholly free. I reserve till my return the honour of 
mentioning to you the names of those officers of 
merit whom the love of their profession has led to 
this continent. All those who are French, Sir, 
have a right to feel confidence in you. It is on this 
ground that I claim your indulgence ; I have a 
second claim upon it from the respect with which 
I have the honour to be, Sir, 

Your very humble and obedient servant, 


If this letter should weary you, Sir, the manner 
in which it will reach you may be deemed perhaps 
but too secure. I entrust it to M. de Valfort, cap- 
tain of the regiment of Aunis, with the commission 
of colonel in our islands, whom his talents, repu- 
tation, and researches, have rendered useful in this 
country, and whom the wishes of General Wash- 
ington would have detained here, if his health had 
not rendered it absolutely necessary for him to re- 
turn to France. I shall here await your orders, 
(which cannot, without difficulty, enter an Ame- 
rican harbour,) or I shall go myself to receive 
them, as future circumstances may render proper ; 
for, since my arrival, I have not received one order 
which could* regulate my movements. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 113 


The Camp near Whitemarsh, Oct. 29th, 1777. 
I SEND you an open letter, my dearest love, in the 
person of M. de Valfort, my friend, whom I entreat 
you to receive as such. He will tell you at length 
everything concerning me ; but I must tell you 
myself how well I love you. I have too much 
pleasure in experiencing this sentiment not to have 
also pleasure in repeating it to you a thousand 
times, if that were possible. I have no resource 
left me, my love, but to write and write again, with- 
out even hoping that my letters will ever reach 
you, and I endeavour to console myself, by the plea- 
sure of conversing with you, for the disappointment 
and anguish of not receiving one single line from 
France. It is impossible to describe to you how 
completely my heart is torn by anxiety and fear ; 
nor should I wish to express all I feel, even if it 
were in my power to do so ; for I would not disturb, 
by any painful impressions, the happiest moments 
of my exile those in which I can speak to you of 
my tenderness. But do you, at least, pity me ? Do 
you comprehend all that I endure ? If I could only 
know at this moment where you are, and what you 
are doing ! but in the course of time I shall learn 
all this, for I am not separated from you in reality, 
as if I were dead. I am expecting your letters with 
an impatience, from which nothing can for an in- 
stant divert my thoughts : every one tells me they 
must soon arrive ; but can I rely on this ? Neglect 
not one opportunity of writing to me, if my happi- 
ness be still dear to you. Repeat to me that you 
love me : the less I merit your affection, the more 
necessary to me are your consoling assurances of it. 

VOL. I. I 

114 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778, 

You must have received so many accounts of my 
slight wound, that all repetitions on the subject 
would he useless ; and if you ever believed it was 
anything serious, M. de Valfort can undeceive you. 
In a very short time I shall not even be lame. 

Is it not dreadful, my love, to reflect that it is 
by the public, by English papers, by our enemy's 
gazettes, that I should receive intelligence concern- 
ing you ? In an unimportant article relating to my 
arrival here, they ended by speaking of yourself, 
your situation, and approaching confinement ; that 
source of all my fears, agitations, hopes, and joy. 
How happy I should feel if I could learn that I had 
become a second time a father, that you are in good 
health, that my two children and their mother are 
likely to constitute the felicity of my future life 1 
This country is delightful for the growth of filial 
and paternal love : these feelings may even be 
termed passions, and give rise to the most assidu- 
ous and unremitting care. The news of your con- 
finement will be received with joy by the whole 
army, and above all by its commander. 

I shall find my poor little Henriette very amusing 
on my return. I hope she will deliver a long sermon 
of reproof, and that she will speak to me with all 
the frankness of friendship ; for my daughter will 
be always, I trust, my most intimate friend ; I will 
only be a father in affection, and paternal love shall 
unite in my heart with friendship. Embrace her, 
my love, may I say embrace them? for me ! But I 
will not dwell upon all I suffer from this painful 
uncertainty. I know that you share all the sorrows 
of my heart, and I will not afflict you. I wrote by 
the last opportunity to Madame d'Ayen ; since my 
wound I have written to everybody ; but those let- 
ters have perhaps been lost. It is not my fault ; I 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 115 

wish to return a little evil to those wicked letter- 
stealers when they are on land, but on the sea I 
have only the consolation of the weak, that of 
cursing heartily those of whom you cannot be re- 
venged. A thousand tender respects to your mo- 
ther ; my kind regards to your sisters. Do not 
forget my compliments to the Marshal de Noailles, 
and to your paternal and material relations. I 
have received four foolish lines from the Marshal 
de Mouchy, who does not say one word of you ; I 
swore at him in every language. Adieu, my love, 
adieu ; ask questions of my good, excellent friend, 
M. de Valfort, for my paper is coming to a close. 
It is dreadful to be reduced to hold no communi- 
cation but by letter with a person whom one loves 
as I love you, and as I shall ever love you, until I 
draw my latest breath. 

I have not missed a single opportunity, not even 
the most indirect one, without writing to you. Do 
the same also on your side, my dearest life, if you 
love me ; but I should indeed be unfeeling and un- 
grateful if I were to doubt your love. 


Camp of Whitemarsh, November 6th, 1777. 
You will perhaps receive this letter, my dearest 
love, at the expiration of five or six years, for I am 
writing to you by an accidental opportunity, in 
which I do not place great trust. See what a circuit 
my letter must make. An officer in the army will 
carry it to Fort Pitt, three hundred miles in the in- 
terior of the continent ; it will then embark on the 
great Ohio river, and traverse regions inhabited only 

i 2 

116 CORRESPONDENCE 1777,1778. 

by savages ; having reached New Orleans, a small 
vessel will transport it to the Spanish islands ; a 
ship of that nation God knows when ! will carry it 
with her on her return to Europe. But it will even 
then be very distant from you ; and it is only after 
having been soiled by the dirty hands of all the 
Spanish post-masters that it will be allowed to pass 
the Pyrenees. It may very possibly be unsealed 
and resealed five or six times before it be finally 
placed in your hands ; but it will prove to you that 
I neglect no opportunity, not even the most indirect 
one, of sending you news of myself, and of repeating 
how well I love you. It is, however, for my own 
satisfaction only that I delight to tell you so at 
present ; I hope that I shall have the pleasure of 
throwing this letter in the fire when it arrives, for 
be it understood I shall be there also, and my pre- 
sence will render this piece of paper very insignifi- 
cant. The idea is most soothing to my heart, and 
I indulge it with rapture. How enchanting to think 
of the moments when we shall be together ! but how 
painful also to recollect that my joy is only caused 
by an illusion, and that I am separated from the 
reality of my happiness by two thousand leagues, 
an immense ocean, and villanous English vessels ! 
Those wretched vessels make me very unhappy. 
One letter, one letter only, have I yet received from 
you, my love ; the others have been lost or taken, 
and are probably at the bottom of the sea. I must 
consider our enemy the cause of this dreadful loss ; 
for I am certain you do not neglect to write to me 
from every port, and by all the despatches sent by 
Dr. Franklin and Mr. JDeane. And yet some ships 
arrived ; I have sent couriers to every corner of the 
continent ; but all my hopes have been frustrated. 
Perhaps you have not been properly informed. I 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 117 

entreat you, my love, to inquire carefully in what 
manner you may best send your letters. It is so 
dreadful for me to be deprived of them, and I am 
so unhappy at being separated from all I love ! I 
am guilty, it is true, of having caused my own ca- 
lamity ; but you would pity me if you knew all that 
my heart endured. 

But why tell you news in a letter destined to travel 
about the world for years, which will reach you 
perhaps in shreds, and will represent antiquity per- 
sonified ? My other despatches must have informed 
you of the various events of the campaign. The 
battle of Brandy wine, in which I most skilfully lost 
a small part of my leg ; the taking possession of 
Philadelphia, which will by no means, however, be 
attended with the ill consequences which have been 
expected in Europe ; the attack of a post at Ger- 
mantown, at which I was not present, from having 
received a recent wound, and which did not prove 
successful; the surrender of General Burgoyne, with 
five thousand men that same Burgoyne who wished 
to devour us all, last spring, but who finds himself 
this autumn the prisoner of war of our northern 
army ; and finally, our present situation, stationed 
immediately opposite each other, at four leagues dis- 
tance, and General Howe established at Philadel- 
phia, making great exertion to take certain forts, 
and having already lost in the attempt one large 
and one small vessel. You are now quite as well 
informed on the subject as if you were general-in- 
chief of either army. I need only at this moment 
add, that the wound of the llth of September, of 
which I have spoken to you a thousand times, is 
almost completely healed, although I am still a little 
lame, but that in a few days there will scarcely re- 
main any traces of this accident. All these details 
will be given you very circumstantially by my friend 

118 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

Mr. de Valfort, to whom I have given a letter for 
you, and on whose accounts you may implicitly rely. 
I have just learnt that he has sailed, not, as I ex- 
pected, in a packet, but in a good frigate of thirty- 
five guns : it would be unlucky indeed if he were 
taken. From his lips, and the epistle which I con- 
fided to him five or six days ago, you will learn all 
that your affection for me may make you wish to 
know. I wish you also knew the precise day of my 
return, and I am most impatient to fix that day 
myself, and to be able to say to you, in the joy of 
my heart, upon such a day I set out to rejoin you, 
and obtain all earthly happiness. 

A little gentleman, in a blue coat, with lemon- 
coloured facings and a white waistcoat, a German, 
coming hither to solicit an employment, (which he 
will not obtain,) and speaking wretched French, told 
me that he quitted Europe in the month of August : 
he talked to me of politics and of the ministry ; he 
upset all Europe generally, and every court indi- 
vidually ; but he knew not a word of what was 
most interesting to my heart. I examined him in 
every way ; I mentioned fifty names to him ; his 
answer was always, " Me not know them noblemen." 

I will not weary you with a long account of the 
state of my finances. The accident which occurred 
to my vessel was a source of vexation to me, because 
that vessel would have been useful to me in the 
present settlement of my affairs ; but it is no longer 
in being, and I should reproach myself with having 
sent it back, had I not been obliged to make its 
return a clause in my engagements, on account of 
my minority.* Everything here is incredibly dear. 
We feel the consolation of the malevolent in think - 

* It will be seen by the memoirs that that vessel was wrecked 
on the bar of Charlestown. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 119 

ing that the scarcity is still greater in Philadelphia. 
In time of war, we become reconciled to all we 
may ourselves endure by making our enemies suffer 
ten times more. We have here an abundance of 
provisions, and we learn with pleasure that our 
English neighbours are not so fortunate. 

Do not think at present of being uneasy on my 
account ; all the hard blows are over, and there can 
be, at most, but some little miniature strokes, which 
cannot concern me ; I am not less secure in this 
camp than I should be were I in the centre of Paris, 
If every possible advantage to be attained by serving 
here ; if the friendship of the army in gross and in 
detail ; if a tender union with the most respectable 
and admirable of men, General Washington, sus- 
tained by mutual confidence ; if the affection of those 
Americans by whom I wish to be beloved ; if all this 
were sufficient to constitute my happiness, I should 
indeed have nothing to desire. But my heart is far 
from being tranquil. You would compassionate 
me, if you knew how much that heart suffers, and 
how well it loves you ! 

The present season of the year makes me hope to 
receive some letters. What may they announce to 
me ? what may I hope ? O, my dearest love, how 
cruel it is to endure this painful anxiety, under cir- 
cumstances which are so all-important to my hap- 
piness ! Have I two children ? have I another 
infant to share my tender affection with my dearest 
Henriette ? Embrace my dear little girl a thousand 
times for me ; embrace them both tenderly, my 
dearest life. I trust they will know one day how 
well I love them. 

A thousand respectful compliments to Madame 
d'Ayen ; a thousand tender ones to the viscountess 
and my sisters ; to my friends a million of kind 

120 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

regards ; remember me to every one. Adieu ! take 
care of your own health ; give me circumstantial 
details of all things ; believe that I love you more 
than ever, that you are the first object of my 
affection, and the surest guarantee of my felicity. 
The sentiments so deeply engraven on a heart which 
belongs to you alone, shall remain, whilst that heart 
continues to vibrate. Will you, too, always love 
me, my dearest life ? I dare believe it, and that 
we shall mutually render each other happy by an 
affection equally tender and eternal. Adieu, adieu ! 
how delightful would it be to embrace you at this 
moment, and say to you with my own lips, I love 
thee better than I have ever loved, and I shall love 
thee for the remainder of my life. 


Haddonfield, the 26th November, 1777. 

DEAR GENERAL, I went down to this place since 
the day before yesterday, in order to be acquainted 
of all the roads and grounds around the enemy. I 
heard at my arrival that their main body was be- 

* All the letters addressed to General Washington, as well 
as to other Americans, were written in English. Since the 
death of General Washington, his family have returned to Ge- 
neral Lafayette the original letters he had addressed to him, and 
these are now in our possession. The originals of Washington's 
letters were almost all lost in the French revolution ; but M. de 
Lafayette, during his last journey to the United States, had a 
great number of them copied from minutes preserved by Wash- 
ington himself: they have been inserted in the collection we have 
so frequently quoted from, published by Mr. Sparks. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 121 

tween Great and Little Timber Creek since the 
same evening. Yesterday morning, in reconnoiter- 
ing about, I have been told that they were very busy 
in crossing the Delaware. I saw them myself in 
their boats, and sent that intelligence to General 
Greene as soon as possible, as every other thing I 
heard of. But I want to acquaint your excellency 
of a little event of last evening, which, though not 
very considerable in itself, will certainly please you, 
on account of the bravery and alacrity a small party 
of ours shewed on that occasion. After having 
spent the most part of the day to make myself well 
acquainted with the certainty of their motions, I 
came pretty late into the Gloucester road, between 
the two creeks. I had ten light-horse with Mr. 
Lindsey, almost a hundred and fifty riflemen, under 
Colonel Buttler, and two piquets of the militia, com- 
manded by Colonels Hite and Ellis : my whole body 
was not three hundred. Colonel Armand, Colonel 
Laumoy, the chevaliers Duplessis and Gimat, were 
the Frenchmen who went with me. A scout of my 
men, with whom was Mr. Duplessis, to see how 
near were the first piquets from Gloucester, found 
at two miles and a half of it a strong post of three 
hundred and fifty Hessians with field-pieces, (what 
number I did know, by the unanimous deposition 
of their prisoners,) and engaged immediately. As 
my little reconnoitering party was all in fine spirits, 
I supported them. We pushed the Hessians more 
than an half mile from the place where was their 
main body, and we made them run very fast : Bri- 
tish reinforcements came twice to them, but, very 
far from recovering their ground, they went always 
back. The darkness of the night prevented us then 
to push that advantage, and, after standing upon 

122 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

the ground we had got, I ordered them to return 
very slow to Haddonfield. The enemy, knowing 
perhaps by our drums that we were not so near, 
came again to fire at us ; but the brave Major 
Moriss, with a part of his riflemen, sent them back, 
and pushed them very fast. I understand that they 
have had between twenty-five and thirty wounded, 
at least that number killed, among whom I am cer- 
tain, is an officer ; some say more, and the prisoners 
told me they have lost the commandant of that body; 
we got yet, this day, fourteen prisoners. I sent you 
the most moderate account I had from themselves. 
We left one single man killed, a lieutenant of mi- 
litia, and only five of ours were wounded. Such is 
the account of our little entertainment, which is in- 
deed much too long for the matter, but I take the 
greatest pleasure to let you know that the conduct 
of our soldiers is above all praises : I never saw men 
so merry, so spirited, so desirous to go on to the 
enemy, whatever forces they could have, as that 
small party was in this little fight. I found the 
riflemen above even their reputation, and the rnilitia 
above all expectations I could have : I returned to 
them my very sincere thanks this morning. I wish 
that this little success of ours may please you , 
though a very trifling one, I find it very interesting 
on account of the behaviour of our soldiers. 

Some time after I came back, General Varnum 
arrived here ; General Greene is, too, in this place 
since this morning ; he engaged me to give you 
myself the account of the little advantage of that 
small part of the troops under his command. I have 
nothing more to say to your excellency about our 
business on this side, because he is writing himself : 
I should have been very glad, if circumstances had 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 123 

permitted me, to be useful to him upon a greater 
scale. As he is obliged to march slow in order to 
attend his troops, and as I am here only a volunteer, 
I will have the honour to wait upon your excellency 
as soon as possible, and I'll set out to-day : it will 
be a great pleasure for me to find myself again with 

With the most tender affection and highest re- 
spect I have the honour to be, 


I must tell, too, that the riflemen had been the 
whole day running before my horse, without eating 
or taking any rest. 

I have just now a certain assurance that two 
British officers, besides those I spoke you of, have 
died this morning of their wounds in an house ; this, 
and some other circumstances, let me believe that 
their lost may be greater than I told to your excel- 


Camp Gulph, Pennsylvania, Dec. 16th, 1777. 

THIS letter, if it ever reaches you, will find you at 
least in France ; some hazards are averted by this 
circumstance, but I must not indulge in many 
hopes. I never write a letter for Europe without 
deploring before hand the fate most probably await- 
ing it, and I labour, undoubtedly, more for Lord 
Howe than for any of my friends. The bad season 
is fortunately drawing near ; the English ships will 
be obliged to quit their confounded cruising sta- 
tions ; I may then receive letters, and forward them 

124 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

from hence with some degree of security ; this will 
make me very happy, and will prevent my weary- 
ing you by a repetition of events which I wish you 
to be acquainted with, but which I do not wish to 
remind you of each time I write. I am very anxious 
for the account of your journey. I depend princi- 
pally on Madame de Lafayette for its details ; she 
well knows how interesting they will be to me. The 
Marshall de Noailles tells me, in general terms, that 
the letters he receives from Italy assure him the 
travellers are all in good health. From him I have 
also learnt the confinement of Madame Lafayette ; 
he does not speak of it as if it were the happiest of 
all possible circumstances ; but my anxiety was too 
keen to be able to make any distinction of sex ; and 
by kindly writing to me, and giving me an account 
of the event, he rendered me far, far happier than 
he imagined, when he announced to me that I had 
only a daughter.* The Rue de St. Honore has now 
for ever lost its credit, whilst the other Hotel de 
Noailles has acquired new lustre by the birth of 
Adrian. f It is truly an ill-proceeding on my part 
to throw that disgrace on a family from whom I 
have received so much kindness. You must now 
be freezing on the high roads of France ; those of 
Pennsylvania are also very cold, and I endeavour 
vainly to persuade myself that the difference of lati- 
tude betwixt this and Paris ought to give us, com- 
paratively speaking, a delightful winter : I am even 
told that it will be more severe. We are destined 
to pass it in huts, twenty miles from Philadelphia, 

* Madame Charles de Latour-Maubourg. 

f A son of the Viscount de Noailles, who was the son of Mar- 
shal de Mouchy, and married the eldest daughter of the Duke 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 125 

that we may protect the country, be enabled to take 
advantage of every favourable opportunity, and also 
have the power of instructing the troops by keeping 
them together. It would, perhaps, have been better 
to have entered quietly into real winter quarters ; 
but political reasons induced General Washington 
to adopt this half-way measure. 

I wish I had sufficient skill to give you a satisfac- 
tory account of the military events passing in this 
country ; but, in addition to my own incapacity, 
reasons, of which you will understand the weight, 
prevent my hazarding in a letter, exposed to the 
capture of the English fleet, a relation which might 
explain many things, if I had the happiness of con- 
versing with you in person. I will, however, en- 
deavour to repeat to you, once more, the most im- 
portant events that have occurred during this cam- 
paign. My gazette, which will be more valuable 
from not containing my own remarks, must be pre- 
ferable to the gazettes of Europe ; because the man 
who sees with his own eyes, even if he should not 
see quite correctly, must always merit more atten- 
tion than the man who has seen nothing. As to 
the gazettes which the English shower upon us, 
they appear to me only fit to amuse chairmen over 
their mugs of ale ; and even these men must have 
indulged in liberal potations, not to perceive the 
falsehoods they contain. It seems to me that the 
project of the English ministry was to cut in a line 
that part of America which extends from the bay of 
Chesapeak to Ticonderoga. General Howe was 
ordered to'repair to Philadelphia by the Elk river ; 
Burgoyne to descend to Albany, and Clinton to as- 
cend from New York by the North river : the three 
generals might in this manner have joined hands ; 
they would have received, or pretended to receive, 

126 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

the submission of the alleged conquered provinces ; 
we should only have retained for our winter quar- 
ters the interior of the country, and have depended 
solely for our resources on the four southern states. 
An attack on Chariest own may also, perhaps, have 
been intended : in the opinion of the cabinet of the 
King of England, America was thus almost con- 
quered. Providence fortunately permitted some 
alterations to take place in the execution of this 
finely-conceived project to exercise, probably, for 
some time, the constancy of the British nation. 

When I arrived at the army, in the month of 
August, I was much astonished at not finding any 
enemies. After having made some marches into 
Jersey, where nothing occurred, General Howe em- 
barked at New York. We were encamped, and 
expecting their descent, on the Chester side, when 
we learnt that they were at the mouth of the Elk 
river. General Washington marched to meet them, 
and after having taken up several stations, resolved 
to wait their arrival upon some excellent heights on 
the Brandywine stream. The llth of September 
the English marched to attack us ; but whilst they 
were amusing us with their cannon, and several 
movements in front, they suddenly detached the 
greater part of their troops, the choicest men of 
their army, with the grenadiers, under the command 
of General Howe, and Lord Cornwallis, to pass a ford 
four miles distant on our right. As soon as General 
Washington became aware of this movement, he de- 
tached his whole right wing to march towards them. 
Some unfounded reports, which had all the appear- 
ance of truth, and which contradicted the first ac- 
counts received, arrested for a length of time the 
progress of that wing, and when it arrived, the 
enemy had already crossed the ford. Thus it became 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 127 

necessary to engage in an open field with an army 
superior in numbers to our own. After having 
for some time sustained a very brisk fire, though 
many were killed on the side of the English, the 
Americans were obliged to give way. A portion 
of them was rallied and brought back : it was then 
that I received my wound. In a word, to cut the 
matter short, everything went on badly on both 
sides, and General Washington was defeated be- 
cause he could not gain the first general battle 
which had been fought during the war. The army 
reassembled at Chester ; but having been carried 
to a distance from it, I have not been able to 
follow its different movements. General Howe took 
advantage of the disorder which a tremendous rain 
had occasioned in our army to pass the Schuylkiil : 
he repaired to Philadelphia, to take possession of it, 
and stationed himself between that town and Ger- 
man town. General Washington attacked him on 
the 4th of October ; and we may assert that our ge- 
neral beat theirs, although their troops defeated 
ours, since he surprised him, and even drove back the 
English for some time ; but their experience proved 
again triumphant over our unpractised officers and 
soldiers. Some time before this event, an Ame- 
rican brigadier, 'placed in detachment on the other 
side of the river, had been attacked at night in his 
camp, and had lost some of his men. These are 
the only important events which took place on our 
side during the six weeks that I was absent from 
the camp, whilst obliged to keep my bed from my 
unclosed wound : at that time we received good 
news of General Burgoyne. When I first rejoined the 
army, whilst General Howe was on the water, I learnt 
that Ticonderoga had been precipitately abandoned 
by the Americans, leaving there several cannons and 

128 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

a quantity of ammunition. This success inflamed the 
pride of General Burgoyne, and he issued a pompous 
proclamation, for which he has since paid very 
dearly. His first act was to send a detachment, 
which was repulsed ; he was not, however, discou- 
raged, but marched on, through immense forests, in a 
country which contained but a single road. General 
Gates had under his orders fifteen or sixteen thousand 
men, who distressed the enemy by firing upon them 
from behind the trees. Whether conqueror or con- 
quered, General Burgoyne 's force became gradually 
weakened, and every quarter of a league cost him 
many men. At length, surrounded on all sides, and 
perishing with hunger, he was obliged to enter into 
a convention, in virtue of which he was conducted 
by the New England militia into that same state of 
Massachusets in which it had been asserted in Lon- 
don he was to take up his winter quarters. From 
thence he is to be conveyed, with whatever troops 
he may have remaining, to England, at the expense 
of the king his master. Ticonderoga has been since 
evacuated by the English. 

General Clinton, who had set out rather late from 
New York, after having taken and destroyed Fort 
Montgomery, on the north river, endeavoured to 
reach the rear of Gates ; but, hearing of the conven- 
tion, he returned on the same road by which he had 
advanced. If he had been more rapid in his march, 
the affairs of General Gates would not have ended 
so fortunately. 

When my wound permitted me, after the space 
of six weeks, to rejoin the army, I found it stationed 
fifteen miles from Philadelphia ; our northern rein- 
forcements had arrived ; General Howe was much 
incommoded by two forts, one on the Jersey side, 
the other on the little Island of Mud, that you will 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 129 

find on your map, below the SchuylkilL Those 
two forts defended the chevaux de frise of the De- 
laware ; they held out for a long time, against all 
the efforts of the English troops, both by sea and 
land. Two young Frenchmen, who were acting 
there as engineers, acquired much glory by their 
conduct ; MM. de Fleury, of the regiment of 
Rouergue, and Mauduit Duplessis, who had also at 
the same time the command of the artillery : he is 
an artillery officer in France. Some Hessians, 
commanded by Count Donop, attacked the fort in 
which Mauduit was stationed, and were repulsed 
with considerable loss. Count Donop was taken 
and received a mortal wound. These forts, after 
having made a vigorous resistance, were at length 
evacuated. Lord Cornwallis then passed into Jersey 
with five thousand men. The same number of our 
troops was stationed there, under one of our majors- 
general. As I was only a volunteer, I went to re- 
connoitre the ground, and having met, accidentally, 
with a detachment near the enemy's post, the good 
conduct of my soldiers rendered an imprudent 
attack justifiable. We were told that his lordship 
had been wounded. He then again re-crossed the 
river, and we also did the same. Some days after- 
wards our army assembled at Whitemarsh, thirteen 
miles from Philadelphia. The whole army of 
General Howe advanced to attack us : but having 
examined our position on every side, they judged it 
more prudent to retire during the night, after four 
days of apparent hesitation. We then executed 
the project of crossing over on this side of the 
Schuylkill, and after having been delayed on the 
opposite side, from finding on this shore a part of 
the enemy's army, (although they only fired a few 
cannon balls at us,) they left us a free passage the 

VOL. I. K 

130 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

next day, and we shall all repair unto our huts for 
the winter. 

Whilst remaining there, the American army will 
endeavour to clothe itself, because it is almost in a 
state of nudity, to form itself, because it requires 
instruction, and to recruit itself, because it is 
feeble ; but the thirteen states are going to rouse 
themselves and send us some men. My division 
will, I hope, be one of the strongest, and I will 
exert myself to make it one of the best. The 
actual situation of the enemy is by no means an 
unpleasant one ; the army of Burgoyne is fed at 
the expense of the republic, and the few men they 
may obtain back, for many will be lost upon the 
road, will immediately be replaced by other troops ; 
Clinton is quite at ease in New York, with a 
numerous garrison ; General Howe is paying court 
to the belles of Philadelphia. The liberty the 
English take of stealing and pillaging from friends 
as well as foes, places them completely at their 
ease. Their ships at present sail up to the town, 
not, however, without some danger, for, without 
counting the ship of sixty-four guns and the frigate 
which were burnt before the forts, and without 
counting all those that I trust the ice will destroy, 
several are lost every day on the difficult passage 
they are obliged to undertake. 

The loss of Philadelphia is far from being so im- 
portant as it is conceived to be in Europe. If the 
differences of circumstances, of countries, and of 
proportion between the two armies, were not duly 
considered, the success of General Gates would ap- 
pear surprising when compared to the events that 
have occurred with us, taking into account the 
superiority of General Washington over General 
Gates. Our General is a man formed, in truth, for 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778.- 131 

this revolution, which could not have been accom- 
plished without him. I see him more intimately 
than any other man, and I see that he is worthy of 
the adoration of his country. His tender friendship 
for me, and his complete confidence in me, relating 
to all military and political subjects, great as well 
as small, enable me to judge of all the interests he 
has to conciliate, and all the difficulties he has to 
conquer. I admire each day more fully the excel- 
lence of his character, and the kindness of his heart. 
Some foreigners are displeased at not having been 
employed, (although it did not depend on him to 
employ them) others, whose ambitious projects he 
would not serve, and some intriguing, jealous men, 
have endeavoured to injure his reputation ; but his 
name will be revered in every age, by all true lovers 
of liberty and humanity ; and although I may appear 
to be eulogising my friend, I believe that the part 
he makes me act, gives me the right of avowing 
publicly how much I admire and respect him. There 
are many interesting things that I cannot write, but 
will one day relate to you, on which I entreat you 
to suspend your judgment, and which will redouble 
your esteem for him. 

America is most impatiently expecting us to de- 
clare for her, and France will one day, I hope, 
determine to humble the pride of England. This 
hope, and the measures which America appears de- 
termined to pursue, give me great hopes for the 
glorious establishment of her independence. We 
are not, I confess, so strong as I expected, but we 
are strong enough to fight ; we shall do so, I trust, 
with some degree of success ; and, with the assist- 
ance of France, we shall gain, with costs, the cause 
that I cherish, because it is the cause of justice, 
because it honors humanity, because it is impor- 

K 2 

132 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

tant to my country, and because my American 
friends, and myself, are deeply engaged in it. The 
approaching campaign will be an interesting one. 
It is said that the English are sending us some 
Hanoverians ; some time ago they threatened us 
with, what was far worse, the arrival of some Rus- 
sians. A slight menace from France would lessen 
the number of these reinforcements. The more I 
see of the English, the more thoroughly convinced 
I am, that it is necessary to speak to them in a loud 

After having wearied you with public affairs, you 
must not expect to escape without being wearied 
also with my private affairs. It is impossible to be 
more agreeably situated than I am in a foreign 
country. I have only feelings of pleasure to ex- 
press, and I have each day more reason to be satis- 
fied with the conduct of the congress towards me, 
although my military occupations have allowed me 
to become personally acquainted with but few of its 
members. Those I do know have especially loaded 
me with marks of kindness and attention. The 
new president, Mr. Laurens, one of the most respect- 
able men of America, is my particular friend. As 
to the army, I have had the happiness of obtaining 
the friendship of every individual ; not one oppor- 
tunity is lost of giving me proofs of it. I passed the 
whole summer without accepting a division, which 
you know had been my previous intention ; I passed 
all that time at General Washington's house, where 
I felt as if I were with a friend of twenty years' 
standing. Since my return from Jersey, he has 
desired me to choose, amongst several brigades, the 
division which may please me best; but I have chosen 
one entirely composed of Virginians. It is weak in 
point of numbers at present, just in proportion, 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 133 

however, to the weakness of the whole army, and 
almost in a state of nakedness ; but I am promised 
cloth, of which I shall make clothes, and recruits, 
of which soldiers must be made, about the same 
period ; but, unfortunately, the last is the most 
difficult task, even for more skilful men than me. 
The task I am performing here, if I had acquired 
sufficient experience to perform it well, would im- 
prove exceedingly my future knowledge . The maj or- 
general replaces the lieutenant-general, and the field- 
marshal, in their most important functions, and I 
should have the power of employing to advantage, 
both my talents and experience, if Providence and 
my extreme youth allowed me to boast of possess- 
ing either. I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I 
reflect, and the result of all is the endeavour at 
forming an opinion, into which I infuse as much 
common sense as possible. I will not talk much, 
for fear of saying foolish things ; I will still less risk 
acting much, for fear of doing foolish things ; for I 
am not disposed to abuse the confidence which the 
Americans have kindly placed in me. Such is the 
plan of conduct which I have followed until now, 
and which I shall continue to follow ; but when 
some ideas occur to me, which I believe may become 
useful when properly rectified, I hasten to impart 
them to a great judge, who is good enough to say 
that he is pleased with them. On the other hand, 
when my heart tells me that a favourable oppor- 
tunity offers, I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of 
participating in the peril, but I do not think that the 
vanity of success ought to make us risk the safety 
of an army, or of any portion of it, which may not 
be formed or calculated for the offensive. If I 
could make an axiom, with the certainty of not say- 
ing a foolish thing, I should venture to add that, 

134 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

whatever may be our force, we must content our- 
selves with a completely defensive plan, with the 
exception, however, of the moment when we may be 
forced to action, because I think I have perceived 
that the English troops are more astonished by a 
brisk attack than by a firm resistance. 

This letter will be given you by the celebrated 
Adams, whose name must undoubtedly be known to 
you. As I have never allowed myself to quit the 
army, I have not been able to see him. He wished 
that I should give him letters of introduction to 
France, especially to yourself. May I hope that 
you will have the goodness of receiving him kindly, 
and even of giving him some information respecting 
the present state of affairs. I fancied you would 
not be sorry to converse with a man whose merit is 
so universally acknowledged, He desires ardently 
to succeed in obtaining the esteem of our nation, 
One of his friends himself told me so, 


Camp, 30th December, 1777. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I went yesterday morning 
to head-quarters with an intention of speaking to 
your excellency, but you were too busy, and I shall 
lay down in this letter what I wished to say. 

* This letter was occasioned by the momentary success of an 
intrigue, known in American history under the name of Con- 
way's cabal. Conway, who wished to oppose Gates to Washing- 
ton, had written to the former a letter, in which he attacked 
the general-in-chief. An aide-de-camp of Lord Stirling gained 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 135 

I don't need to tell you that I am sorry for all that 
has happened for some time past. It is a necessary 
dependence of my most tender and respectful friend- 
ship for you, which affection is as true and candid 
as the other sentiments of my heart, and much 
stronger than so new an acquaintance seems to 
admit ; but another reason, to be concerned in the 
present circumstances, is my ardent and perhaps 
enthusiastic wishes for the happiness and liberty of 
this country. I see plainly that America can de- 
fend herself if proper measures are taken, and now 
I begin to fear lest she should be lost by herself and 
her own sons. 

When I was in Europe I thought that here almost 
every man was a lover of liberty, and would rather 
die free than live a slave. You can conceive my 
astonishment when I saw that toryism was as openly 
professed as whiggism itself : however, at that time I 
believed that all good Americans were united to- 
gether ; that the confidence of congress in you was 
unbounded. Then I entertained the certitude that 
America would be independent in case she should 
not lose you. Take away, for an instant, that 
modest diffidence of yourself, (which, pardon my 

knowledge of that letter, and communicated its contents to 
Washington, who entered immediately into an explanation with 
Conway, in consequence of which the latter sent in his resig- 
nation, and announced the intention of re-entering the service 
of France. The resignation was not accepted by congress, and 
Conway was, on the contrary, named inspector-general of the 
army, with the rank of major-general, and the formation of 
the war office in relation to the mercenary troops. We see, by 
a letter from General Washington, that M. de Lafayette was 
the only person to whom he shewed General Conway 's letter, 
transmitted by Lord Stirling's aide-de-camp. (Letter to Horatio 
Gates, of the 4th of January, 1778, written from Washington. 
V, 1st, Appendix No. 6.) 

136 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

freedom, my 4ear General, is sometimes too great, 
and I wish you could know, as well as myself, what 
difference there is between you and any other man,) 
you would see very plainly that if you were lost for 
America, there is no hody who could keep the army 
and the revolution for six months. There are open 
dissensions in congress, parties who hate one an- 
other as much as the common enemy ; stupid men, 
who, without knowing a single word about war, 
undertake to judge you, to make ridiculous com- 
parisons ; they are infatuated with Gates, without 
thinking of the different circumstances, and believe 
that attacking is the only thing necessary to conquer. 
Those ideas are entertained in their minds by some 
jealous men, and perhaps secret friends to the 
British Government, who want to push you in a 
moment of ill humour to some rash enterprise 
upon the lines, or against a much stronger army, 
I should not take the liberty of mentioning these 
particulars to you if I did not receive a letter 
about this matter, from a young good-natured gen- 
tleman at York, whom Conway has ruined by his 
cunning, bad advice, but who entertains the greatest 
respect for you. 

I have been surprised at first, to see the few 
establishments of this board of war, to see the dif- 
ference made between northern and southern de- 
partments, to see resolves from congress about mili- 
tary operations ; but the promotion of Conway is 
beyond all my expectations. I should be glad to 
have new major-generals, because, as I know, you 
take some interest in my happiness and reputation : 
it is, perhaps, an occasion for your excellency to give 
me more agreeable commands in some interesting 
instances. On the other hand, General Conway 
says he is entirely a man to be disposed of by me. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 137 

He calls himself my soldier, and the reason of such 
behaviour to me is, that he wishes to be well 
spoken of at the French court, and his protector, 
the Marquis de Castries, is an intimate acquaintance 
of mine ; but since the letter of Lord Stirling I in- 
quired in his character. I found that he was an am- 
bitious and dangerous man. He has done all in his 
power, by cunning manoeuvres, to take off my con- 
fidence and affection for you. His desire was to 
engage me to leave this country. Now I see all 
the general officers of the army against congress ; 
such disputes, if known by the enemy, would be 
attended with the worst consequences. I am very 
sorry whenever I perceive troubles raised among 
the defenders of the same cause, but my concern is 
much greater when I find officers coming from 
France, officers of some character in my country, 
to whom any fault of that kind may be imputed. 
The reason of my fondness for Conway was his 
being by all means a very brave and very good 
officer. However, that talent for manoeuvres, and 
which seems so extraordinary to congress, is not so 
very difficult a matter for any man of common sense 
who applies himself to it. I must pay to General 
Portail, and some French officers, who came to 
speak me, the justice to say, that I found them as I 
could wish upon this occasion ; for it has made a 
great noise among many in the army. I wish, in- 
deed, those matters could be soon pacified. I wish 
your excellency could let them know how necessary 
you are to them, and engage them at the same time 
to keep peace, and simulate love among themselves 
till the moment when those little disputes shall not 
be attended with such inconveniences. It would 
be, too, a great pity that slavery, dishonour, ruin, 

138 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

and unhappiness of a whole world, should issue 
from some trifling differences between a few men. 

You will find, perhaps, this letter very useless, 
and even inopportune ; but I was desirous of having 
a pretty long conversation with you upon the pre- 
sent circumstances, to explain you what I think 
of this matter. As a proper opportunity for it 
did not occur, I took the liberty of laying down 
some of my ideas in this letter, because it is 
for my satisfaction to be convinced that you, my 
dear general, who have been indulgent enough 
to permit me to look on you as upon a friend, 
should know the confession of my sentiments in a 
matter which I consider as a very important one. 
I have the warmest love for my country and for 
every good Frenchman ; their success fills my heart 
with joy ; but, sir, besides, Conway is an Irishman, 
I want countrymen, who deserve, in every point, 
to do honour to their country. That gentleman 
had engaged me by entertaining my head with ideas 
of glory and shining projects, and I must confess, 
to my shame, that it is a too certain way of 
deceiving me. 

I wished to join to the few theories about war I 
can have, and the few dispositions nature gave, 
perhaps, to me, the experience of thirty campaigns, 
in hope that I should be able to be the more useful in 
the present circumstances. My desire of deserving 
your satisfaction is stronger than ever, and every- 
where you will employ me you can be certain of my 
trying every exertion in my power to succeed. I 
am now fixed to your fate, and I shall follow it and 
sustain it as well by my sword as by all means in 
niy power. You will pardon my importunity in 
iavour of the sentiment which dictated it. Youth 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 139 

and friendship make me, perhaps, too warm, hut 
I feel the greatest concern at all that has happened 
for some time since. 

With the most tender and profound respect, I 
have the honour to be, &c. 


Head-quarters, December 31st, 1777. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, Your favour of yesterday 
conveyed to me fresh proof of that friendship and 
attachment, which I have happily experienced since 
the first of our acquaintance, and for which I en- 
tertain sentiments of the purest affection. It will 
ever constitute part of my happiness to know that 
I stand well in your opinion ; because I am satis- 
fied that you can have no views to answer by 
throwing out false colours, and that you possess a 
mind too exalted to condescend to low arts and 
intrigues to acquire a reputation. Happy, thrice 
happy, would it have been for this army and the 
cause we are embarked in, if the same generous 
spirit had pervaded all the actors in it. But one 
gentleman, whose name you have mentioned, had, 
I am confident, far different views ; his ambition 
and great desire of being puffed off, as one of the 
first officers of the age, could only be equalled by 
the means which he used to obtain them. But 
finding that I was determined not to go beyond the 
line of my duty to indulge him in the first nor to 
exceed the strictest rules of propriety to gratify him 
in the second he became my inveterate enemy ; 

140 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

and he has, I am persuaded, practised every art to 
do me an injury, even at the expense of reprobating 
a measure that did not succeed, that he himself ad- 
vised to. How far he may have accomplished his 
ends, I know not ; and except for considerations of 
a public nature, I care not ; for, it is well known, 
that neither ambitious nor lucrative motives, led me 
to accept my present appointments, in the dis- 
charge of which, I have endeavoured to observe 
one steady and uniform system of conduct, which I 
shall invariably pursue, while I have the honour to 
command, regardless of the tongue of slander, or 
the powers of detraction. The fatal tendency of 
disunion is so obvious, that I have, in earnest terms, 
exhorted such officers as have expressed their dis- 
satisfaction at General Conway's promotion, to be 
cool and dispassionate in their decision about the 
matter ; and I have hopes that they will not suffer 
any hasty determination to injure the service. At 
the same time, it must be acknowledged, that of- 
ficers' feelings upon these occasions are not to be 
restrained, although you may control their actions. 
The other observations contained in your letter 
have too much truth in them ; and, it is much to 
be lamented, that things are not now as they for- 
merly were. But we must not, in so great a con- 
test, expect to meet with nothing but sunshine. I 
have no doubt that everything happens for the 
best, that we shall triumph over all our misfor- 
tunes, and, in the end, be happy ; when, my dear 
marquis, if you will give me your company in Vir- 
ginia, we will laugh at our past difficulties and the 
folly of others ; and I will endeavour, by every 
civility in my power, to shew you how much, and 
how sincerely, I am your affectionate and obedient 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 141 



Valley Forge, December 31st, 1777. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, I should have much re- 
proached myself the liberty I took of writing to 
your excellency, if I had believed it could engage 
you in the trouble of answering that letter. But 
now, as you have written it, I must tell you that 
I received this favour with the greatest satisfaction 
and pleasure. Every assurance and proof of your 
affection fills my heart with joy, because that sen- 
timent of yours is extremely dear and precious to 
me. A tender and respectful attachment for you, 
and an invariable frankness, will be found in my 
mind as you know me better; but, after those 
merits, I must tell you, that very few others are to 
be found. I never wished so heartily to be in- 
trusted by nature with an immensity of talents than 
on this occasion ; I could be then of some use to 
your glory and happiness, as well as to my own. 

What man do not join the pure ambition of glory 
with this other ambitious of advancement, rank, 
and fortune ? As an ardent lover of laurels, I can- 
not bear the idea that so noble <a sentiment should 
be mixed with any low one. In your preaching 
moderation to the brigadiers upon such an occasion , 
I am not surprised to recognise your virtuous cha- 
racter. As I hope my warm interest is known to 
your excellency, I dare entertain the idea that you 
will be so indulgent as to let me know everything 
concerning you, whenever you will not be v under 
the law of secrecy or particular circumstances. 

With the most tender and affectionate friendship 
with the most profound respect I have the ho- 
nour to be, &c. 

142 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 


Camp, near Valley^Forge, January 6th, 1778. 

WHAT a date, my dearest love, and from what a 
region I am now writing, in the month of January ! 
It is in a camp, in the centre of woods, fifteen 
hundred leagues from you, that I find myself en- 
closed in the midst of winter. It is not very long 
since we were only separated from the enemy by a 
small river ; we are at present stationed seven 
leagues from them, and it is on this spot that the 
American army will pass the whole winter, in small 
barracks, which are scarcely more cheerful than 
dungeons. I know not whether it will be agreeable 
to General Howe to visit our new city, in which 
case we would endeavour to receive him with all 
due honour. The bearer of this letter will describe 
to you the pleasant residence which I choose in 
preference to the happiness of being with you, with 
all my friends, in the midst of all possible enjoy- 
ments ; in truth, my love, do you not believe that 
powerful reasons are requisite to induce a person to 
make such a sacrifice ? Everything combined to 
urge me to depart, honour alone told me to re- 
main ; and when you learn in detail the circum- 
stances in which I am placed, those in which the 
army, my friend, its commander, and the whole 
American cause were placed, you will not only for- 
give me, but you will excuse, and I may almost 
venture to say, applaud me. What a pleasure I shall 
feel in explaining to you myself all the reasons of 
my conduct, and, in asking, whilst embracing you, 
a pardon, which I am very certain I shall then 
obtain ! But do not condemn me before hearing 
my defence. In addition to the reasons I have given 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 143 

you, there is one other reason which I would not 
relate to every one, because it might appear like 
affecting airs of ridiculous importance. My pre- 
sence is more necessary at this moment to the 
American cause, than you can possibly conceive ; 
many foreigners, who have been refused employ- 
ment, or whose ambitious views have been frus- 
trated, have raised up some powerful cabals ; they 
have endeavoured, by every sort of artifice, to make 
me discontented with this revolution, and with him 
who is its chief ; they have spread as widely as they 
could, the report that I was quitting the continent. 
The English have proclaimed also, loudly, the same 
intention on my side. I cannot in conscience ap- 
pear to justify the malice of these people. If I 
were to depart, many Frenchmen who are useful 
here would follow my example. General Washing- 
ton would feel very unhappy if I were to speak of 
quitting him ; his confidence in me is greater than 
I dare acknowledge, on account of my youth. In 
the place he occupies, he is liable to be surrounded 
by flatterers or secret enemies ; he finds in me a 
secure friend, in whose bosom he may always con- 
fide his most secret thoughts, and who will always 
speak the truth. Not one day passes without his 
holding long conversations with me, writing me long 
letters, and he has the kindness to consult me on 
the most important matters. A peculiar circum- 
stance is occurring at this moment which renders 
my presence of some use to him : this is not the 
time to speak of my departure. I am also at pre- 
sent engaged in an interesting correspondence with 
the president of congress. The desire to debase 
England, to promote the advantage of my own 
country, and the happiness of humanity, which is 
strongly interested in the existence of one perfectly 

144 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

free nation, all induces me not to depart at the mo- 
ment when my absence might prove injurious to the 
cause I have embraced. The General, also, after a 
slight success in Jersey, requested me, with the 
unanimous consent of congress, to accept a division 
in the army, and to form it according to my own 
judgment, as well as my feeble resources might per- 
mit ; I ought not to have replied to such a mark of 
confidence, by asking what were his commissions 
for Europe. These are some of the reasons, which 
I confide to you, with an injunction of secrecy. I 
will repeat to you many more in person, which 
I dare not hazard in a letter. This letter will be 
given you by a good Frenchman, who has come a 
hundred miles to ask me for my commissions. I 
wrote to you a few days ago by the celebrated Mr. 
Adams ; he will facilitate your sending me letters. 
You must have received those I sent you as soon as 
I heard of your confinement. How very happy that 
event has rendered me, my dearest love ! I delight 
in speaking of it in all my letters, because I delight 
in occupying myself with it at every moment of my 
life ! What a pleasure it will give me to embrace 
my two poor little girls, and make them request 
their mother to forgive me ! You do not believe 
me so hard hearted, and at the same time so ridicu- 
lous, as to suppose that the sex of our new infant 
can have diminished in any degree my joy at its 
birth. Our age is not so far advanced, that we may 
not expect to have another child, without a miracle 
from Heaven. The next one must absolutely be a 
boy. However, if it be on account of the name 
that we are to regret not having a son, I declare 
that I have formed the project of living long enough 
to bear it many years myself, before I yield it to any 
other person. I am indebted to the Marshal de 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 145 

Noailles for the joyful news. I am anxiously ex- 
pecting a letter from you. I received the other day 
one from Desplaces, who mentioned having sent a 
preceding one ; but the caprice of the winds, without 
speaking of English ships, often deranges the order 
of my correspondence. I was for some days very 
uneasy about the Viscount de Coigny, who, some of 
my letters announced, was in a precarious state of 
health. But that letter from Desplaces, who told 
me all were well, without mentioning the viscount's 
name, has quite reassured me. I have also received 
some other letters which do not speak of his health. 
"When you write, I entreat you to send me many 
details of all the people whom I love, and even of 
all my acquaintance. It is very extraordinary that 
I have not heard of Madame de Fronsac's confine- 
ment. Say a thousand tender and respectful things 
from me to her, as well as to the Countess Auguste. 
If those ladies do not enter into the reasons which 
force me to remain here, they must indeed think 
me a most absurd being, more especially as they 
have opportunities of seeing clearly what a charm- 
ing wife I am separated from ; but even that may 
prove to them what powerful motives must guide 
my conduct. Several general officers have brought 
their wives to the camp ; I envy them not their 
wives but the happiness they enjoy in being able to 
see them. General Washington has also resolved 
to send for his wife. As to the English, they have 
received a reinforcement of three hundred young 
ladies from New York ; and we have captured a 
vessel filled with chaste officers' wives, who had come 
to rejoin their husbands : they were in great fear of 
being kept for the American army. 

You will learn by the bearer of this letter that 
my health is very good, that my wound is healed, 

VOL. i. L 

146 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

and that the change of country has produced no 
effect upon me. Do you not think that, at my 
return, we shall be old enough to establish ourselves 
in our own house, live there happily together, re- 
ceive our friends, institute a delightful state of free- 
dom, and read foreign newspapers, without feeling 
any curiosity to judge by ourselves of what may pass 
in foreign countries ? I enjoy thus building, in 
France, castles of felicity and pleasure : you always 
share them with me, my dearest love, and when we 
are once united, nothing shall again separate us, or 
prevent our experiencing together, and through each 
other, the joy of mutual affection, and the sweetest 
and most tranquil happiness. Adieu, my love ; I 
only wish this project could be executed on this 
present day. Would it not be agreeable to you 
also ? Present my tender respects to Madame 
d'Ayen : embrace a thousand times the viscountess 
and my sisters. Adieu, adieu ; continue to love 
me, and forget not for a moment the unhappy exile 
who thinks incessantly of thee with renewed ardour 
and tenderness. 


DEAR GENERAL, I shall make use, in this parti- 
cular instance, of the liberty you gave me, of tell- 
ing freely every idea of mine which could strike me 
as not being useless to a better order of things. 

There were two gentlemen, same rank, same duty 
to perform, and same neglf ct of it, who have been 
arrested the same day by me. As I went in the 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 147 

night around the picquets, I found them in fault, 
and I gave an account of it the next day to your 
excellency. You answered, that I was much in 
wrong not to have had them relieved and arrested 
immediately. I objected that it was then very late 
for such a changement, and that I did not know 
which was the rule in this army, but that the gen- 
tlemen should be arrested in that very moment. 
The last answer of your excellency has been, " they 
are to have a court-martial, and you must give no- 
tice of it to the adjutant-general." Therefore, 
Major Nevil made two letters in order to arrest 
them, one for having been surprised in his post, and 
the other, for the same cause, and allowing his sen- 
tries to have fires, which he could see in standing be- 
fore the picquet. I give you my word of honour, 
that there was not any exaggeration. 

Now I see in the orders, the less guilty punished 
in a manner much too severe indeed, and dismissed 
from the service, (it is among all the delicate minds 
deprived of his honour,) when he was only to be 
severely reprimanded and kept for some time under 
arrest. But it can be attributed to a very severe 

What must I think of the same court, when they 
unanimously acquit (it is to say that my accusation 
is not true) the officer who joins to the same fault, 
entirely the same this, of allowing his sentries to 
have fire in his own sight ; for in every service 
being surprised or being found in the middle of his 
picquet without any challenging or stopping sentry, 
as Major Nevil, riding before me, found him, is 
entirely the same thing ; and Major Nevil, riding 
before me, when I was busy to make a sentry pull 
off his fire, can swear that such was the case with 
that officer he can do more than swearing, for he 

L 2 

148 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

can give his word of honour, and I think that idea 
honour is the same in every country. 

But the prejuges are not the same thing ; for 
giving publicly the best of such a dispute (for here 
it becomes a trial for both parties) to an officer of 
the last military stage against one of the first, should 
be looked on as an affront to the rank, and acquit- 
ting a man, whom one other man accuses, looked 
upon as an affront to the person. It is the same in 
Poland, for Count de Pulaski was much affronted 
at the decision of a court-martial entirely acquitting 
Colonel Molens. However, as I know the English 
customs, I am nothing else but surprised to see 
such a partiality in a court-martial. 

Your excellency will certainly approve my not 
arresting any officer for being brought before a 
court-martial for any neglect of duty ; but when 
they will be robbers or cowards, or when they will 
assassinate in all, when they will deserve being 
cashiered or put to death. 

Give me leave to tell your excellency how I am 
adverse to court-martials. I know it is the English 
custom, and I believe it is a very bad one. It comes 
from their love of lawyers, speakers, and of that 
black apparatus of sentences and judgments ; but 
such is not the American temper, and I think this 
new army must pick up the good institutions, and 
leave the bad ones wherever they may be. In 
France, an officer is arrested by his superior, who 
gives notice of it to the commanding officer, and 
then he is punished enough in being deprived of 
going out of his room in time of peace of going 
his duty in time of war. Nobody knows of it but 
his comrades. When the fault is greater, he is 
confined in a common room for prisoner officers, 
and this is much more shameful. Notice of it is 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 149 

immediately given to the general officer who com- 
mands there. That goes, too, to the king's minister, 
who is to be replaced here by the commander-in- 
chief; in time of war, it goes to the general-in- 

Soldiers are punished the same, or next day, by 
order of proper officers, and the right of punishing 
is proportionate to their ranks. 

But w r hen both officers and soldiers have done 
something which deserves a more severe punish- 
ment ; when their honour, or their life, or their 
liberty for more than a very short time, is con- 
cerned, then a court-martial meets, and the sen- 
tence is known. How will you let an unhappy 
soldier be confined several weeks with men who 
are to be hanged, with spies, with the most horrid 
sort of people, and in the same time be lost for the 
duty, when they deserve only some lashes. There 
is no proportion in the punishments. 

How is it possible to carry a gentleman before a 
parcel of dreadful judges, at the same place where 
an officer of the same rank has been just now 
cashiered, for a trifling neglect of his duty ; for, I 
suppose, speaking to his next neighbour, in a 
manoeuvre for going into a house to speak to a 
pretty girl, when the army is on its march, and a 
thousand other things ? How is it possible to bring 
to the certainty of being cashiered or dishonoured, 
a young lad who has made a considerable fault be- 
cause he had a light head, a too great vivacity, 
when that young man would be, perhaps, in some 
years, the best officer of the army, if he had been 
friendly reprimanded and arrested for some time, 
without any dishonour ? 

The law is always severe, and brings with it an 
eternal shameful mark. When the judges are par- 

150 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

tial, as on this occasion, it is much worse, because 
they have the same inconvenience as law itself. 

In court-martial, men are judged by their infe- 
riors. How it is averse to discipline, I don't want to 
say. The publication exposes men to be despised 
by the least soldier. When men have been before 
a court-martial, they should be or acquitted or dis- 
missed. What do you think can be produced by 
the half condemnation of a general officer ? What 
necessity for all the soldiers, all the officers, to 
know that General Maxwell has been prevented from 
doing his duty by his being drunk ? Where is the man 
who will not laugh at him, if he is told by him, you 
are a drunkard ; and is it right to ridiculize a man, 
respectable by his rank, because he drank two or 
three gills of rum ? 

These are my reasons against courts-martial, when 
there is not some considerable fault to punish. Ac- 
cording to my affair, I am sorry in seeing the less 
guilty being the only one punished. However, I shall 
send to courts-martial but for such crimes that there 
will be for the judges no way of indulgence and 

With the most tender respect, I am, &c. 


York, February 3rd, 1778. 

I SHALL never have any cause to reproach myself, 
my dearest love, with having allowed an oppor- 
tunity to pass without writing to you, and I have 
found one by M. du Bouchet, who has the happi- 
ness of embarking for France. You must have 
already received several letters in which I speak of 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 151 

the birth of our new infant, and of the pleasure this 
joyful event has given me. If I thought that you 
could imagine the happiness I feel at this event had 
been at all diminished because our Anastasia is only 
a daughter, I should be so much displeased with 
you, that I should but love you a very little for a 
few moments. O, my love ! what an enchanting 
pleasure it will be for me to embrace you all ; what 
a consolation to be able to weep with my other 
friends for the dear friend whom I have lost ! 

I will not give you a long account of the proofs 
of confidence with which I have been honoured by 
America. Suffice it to say that Canada is oppressed 
by the English ; the whole of that immense country 
is in the power of the enemy, who are there in pos- 
session of troops, forts, and a fleet. I am to repair 
thither with the title of General of the Northern 
Army, at the head of three thousand men, to see 
if no evil can be done to the English in that 
country. The idea of rendering the whole of New 
France free, and of delivering her from a heavy 
yoke, is too glorious for me to allow myself to dwell 
upon it. My army would, in that case, increase at 
an immense rate, and would be increased also by 
the French. I am undertaking a most difficult 
task, above all taking into account the few resources 
I possess. As to those my own merit offers, they 
are very trifling in comparison to the importance of 
the place ; nor can a man of twenty be fit to com- 
mand an army, charged with the numerous details 
to which a general must attend, and having under 
his direct orders a vast extent of country. 

The number of the troops I shall command would 
appear, I own, trifling in Europe, lut it is consider- 
able for America. What gives me most pleasure in 

152 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

all this is, that, under any circumstances, I shall be 
now sooner able to inform you. How delightful it 
will be to hurry through my affairs with the En- 
glish there above ! I am just setting out for Albany, 
and from thence to another place, nearly an hundred 
and fifty leagues from hence, where my labours will 
commence. I shall go part of the way on sledges ; 
having once reached that spot, I shall have only ice 
to tread upon. 

I do not write to any of my friends by this oppor- 
tunity. I have an immense deal of business to do ; 
there is an infinite number of military and political 
affairs to arrange ; there are so many things to re- 
pair, so many new obstacles to remove, that I should 
require, in truth, forty years' experience, and very 
superior talents, to be able to conquer all the diffi- 
culties I meet with. I will, at least, do the best I 
can, and if I only succeed in occupying the enemy's 
attention in the north, even if I do them no other 
injury, it would be rendering an important service, 
and my little army would not be wholly useless. 
Be so kind as to tell the prince* that his youthful 
captain, although now a general-in-chief, has not 
acquired more knowledge than he possessed at Po- 
ly gone, and that he knows not how, unless chance 
or his good angel should direct him, to justify the 
confidence which has been placed in him. A thou- 
sand tender respects to Madame d'Ayen. A thou- 
sand assurances of my tender affection to the 
viscountess and all my sisters. Do not forget me 
to your father, Madame de Tesse, and the Marshal 
de Noailles. Adieu, adieu, my dearest love ; em- 

* The Prince de Poix, colonel of the regiment de Noailles, in 
which M. de Lafayette was captain. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 153 

brace our dear children ; I embrace a million of 
times their beloved mother. When shall I find 
myself again within her arms ? 


Hemingtown, the 9th February, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, I cannot let go my guide without 
taking this opportunity of writing to your excellency, 
though I have not yet public business to speak of. 
I go on very slowly ; sometimes drenched by rain, 
sometimes covered by snow, and not entertaining 
many handsome thoughts about the projected in- 
cursion into Canada ; if successes were to be had, 
it would surprise me in a most agreeable manner 
by that very reason that I don't expect any shining 
ones. Lake Champlain is too cold for producing 
the least bit of laurel, and if I am not starved 
I shall be as proud as if I had gained three bat- 

Mr. Duer had given to me a rendezvous at a 
tavern, but nobody was to be found there. I fancy 
that he will be with Mr. Con way sooner than he has 
told me ; they will perhaps conquer Canada before 
my arrival, and I expect to meet them at the gover- 
nor's house in Quebec. 

Could I believe, for one single instant,, that this 
pompous command of a northern army will let your 
excellency forget a little us absent friends, then, I 
would send the project to the place it comes from. 
But I dare hope that you will remember me some- 
times. I wish you, very heartily, the greatest 

154 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

public and private happiness and successes. It is a 
very melancholy idea for me that I cannot follow 
your fortunes as near your person as I could wish ; 
but my heart will take, very sincerely, its part of 
everything which can happen to you, and I am 
already thinking of the agreeable moment when I 
may come down to assure your excellency of the 
most tender affection and highest respect. I have 
the honour to be, &c. 


Albany, the 19th February, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, Why am I so far from you 
and what business had the board of war to hurry 
me through the ice and snow without knowing 
what I should do, neither what they were doing 
themselves? You have thought, perhaps, that 
their project would be attended with some difficulty, 
that some means had been neglected, that I could 
not obtain all the success and the immensity of 
laurels which they had promised to me ; but I defy 
your excellency to conceive any idea of what I 
have seen since I left the place where I was quiet 
and near my friends, to run myself through all the 
blunders of madness or treachery (God knows 
what). Let me begin the journal of my fine and 
glorious campaign. 

According to Lord Stirling's advice, I went by 
Corich-ferry to Ringo's tavern, where Mr. Duer had 
given me a rendezvous ; but there no Duer was to 
be found, and they did never hear from him. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 155 

From thence I proceeded by the State of New York, 
and had the pleasure of seeing the friends of America 
as warm in their love for the commander-in-chief as 
his best friend could wish. I spoke to Governor 
Clinton, and was much satisfied with that gentle- 
man. At length I met Albany, the 17th, though I 
was not expected before the 25th. General Con- 
way had been here only three days before me, and 
I must confess I found him very active and looking 
as if he had good intentions ; but we know a great 
deal upon that subject. His first word has been 
that the expedition is quite impossible. I was at 
first very diffident of this report, but have found 
that he was right. Such is, at least, the idea I can 
form of this ill-concerted operation within these 
two days. 

General Schuyler, General Lincoln, General 
Arnold, had written, before my arrival, to General 
Conway, in the most expressive terms, that, in our 
present circumstances, there was no possibility to 
begin, now, an enterprise into Canada. Hay, 
deputy quarter-master-general ; Cuyler, deputy 
commissary-general ; Mearsin, deputy clothier-ge- 
neral, in what they call the northern department, 
are entirely of the same opinion. Colonel Hazen, 
who has been appointed to a place which interferes 
with the three others above mentioned, was the 
most desirous of going there. The reasons of such 
an order I think I may attribute to other motives. 
The same Hazen confesses we are not strong enough 
to think of the expedition in this moment. As to 
the troops, they are disgusted, and (if you except 
some Hazen's Canadians) reluctant, to the utmost 
degree, to begin a winter incursion in a so cold 
country. I have consulted everybody, and every- 

156 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

body answers me that it would be madness to under- 
take this operation. 

I have been deceived by the board of war ; they 
have, by the strongest expressions, promised to me 
one thousand, and (what is more to be depended 
upon) they have assured to me in writing, two thou- 
sand and Jive hundred combatants, at a low estimate. 
Now, Sir, I do not believe I can find, in all, twelve 
hundred fit for duty, and most part of those very , 
men are naked, even for a summer's campaign. I 
was to find General Stark with a large body, and 
indeed General Gates had told to me, General Stark 
will have burnt the fleet before your arrival. Well, 
the first letter I receive in Albany is from General 
Stark, who wishes to know what number of men, from 
whence, for what time, for what rendezvous, I desire 
him to raise. Colonel Biveld, who was to rise too, 
would have done something had he received money. 
One asks, what encouragement his people will have, 
the other has no clothes ; not one of them has re- 
ceived a dollar of what was due to them. I have 
applied to every body, I have begged at every door 
I could these two days, and I see that I could do 
something were the expedition to be begun in five 
weeks. But you know we have not an hour to 
lose, and indeed it is now rather too late, had we 
every thing in readiness. 

There is a spirit of dissatisfaction prevailing 
among the soldiers, and even the officers, which is 
owing to their not being paid for some time since. 
This department is much indebted, and as near as I 
can ascertain, for so short a time, I have already dis- 
covered near eight hundred thousand dollars due to 
the continental troops, some militia, the quarter- 
master's department, &c. &c. &c. It was with four 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 157 

hundred thousand dollars, only the half of which 
is arrived to day, that I was to undertake the opera- 
tion, and satisfy the men under my commands. I 
send to congress the account of those debts. Some 
clothes, by Colonel Hazen's activity, are arrived 
from Boston, but not enough by far, and the greatest 
part is cut off. 

We have had intelligence from a deserter, who 
makes the enemy stronger than I thought. There 
is no such thing as straw on board the vessels to 
burn them. I have sent to congress a full account 
of the matter ; I hope it will open their eyes. What 
they will resolve upon I do not know, but I think I 
must wait here for their answer. I have inclosed 
to the president, copies of the most important letters 
I had received. It would be tedious for your 
excellency, were I to undertake the minutest detail 
of everything ; it will be sufficient to say that the 
want of men, clothes, money, and the want of time, 
deprives me of all hopes as to this excursion. If it 
may begin again in the month of June, by the east, 
I cannot venture to assure ; but for the present 
moment such is the idea I conceive of the famous 
incursion, as far as I may be informed, in a so short 

Your excellency may judge that I am very dis- 
tressed by this disappointment. My being ap- 
pointed to the command of the expedition is known 
through the continent, it will be soon known in 
Europe, as I have been desired, by members of 
congress, to write to my friends ; my being at the 
head of an army, people will be in great expecta- 
tions, and what shall I answer? 

I am afraid it will reflect on my reputation, 
and I shall be laughed at. My fears upon that sub- 
ject are so strong, that I would choose to become 

158 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

again only a volunteer, unless congress offers the 
means of mending this ugly business by some 
glorious operation ; but I am very far from giving 
to them the least notice upon that matter. General 
Arnold seems very fond of a diversion against New 
York, and he is too sick to take the field before four 
or five months. I should be happy if something 
was proposed to me in that way, but I will never 
ask, nor even seem desirous, of anything directly 
from congress ; for you, dear general, I know very 
well, that you will do everything to procure me the 
only thing I am ambitious of glory. 

I think your excellency will approve of my 
staying here till further orders, and of my taking 
the liberty of sending my despatches to congress by 
a very quick occasion, without going through the 
hands of my general ; but I was desirous to acquaint 
them early of my disagreeable and ridiculous situa- 

With the greatest affection and respect, I have 
the honour to be, &c. 


The 23rd February, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, I have an opportunity of writing 
to your excellency which I will not miss by any 
means, even should I be afraid of becoming tedious 
and troublesome ; but if they have sent me far from 
you, I don't know for what purpose, at least I must 
make some little use of my pen, to prevent all commu- 
nication from being cut off between your excellency 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 159 

and myself. I have written lately to you my distress- 
ing, ridiculous, foolish, and, indeed, nameless situa- 
tion. I am sent, with a great noise, at the head of 
an army for doing great things ; the whole conti- 
nent, France and Europe herself, and what is 
the worse, the British army, are in great expecta- 
tions. How far they will be deceived, how Jar we 
shall be ridiculed, you may judge by the candid ac- 
count you have got of the state of our affairs. 

There are things, I dare say, in which I am de- 
ceived a certain colonel is not here for nothing : 
one other gentleman became very popular before I 
went to this place ; Arnold himself is very fond of 
him. Every part on which I turn to look I am sure a 
cloud is drawn before my eyes ; however, there are 
points I cannot be deceived upon. The want of 
money, the dissatisfaction among the soldiers, the 
disinclination of every one (except the Canadians, 
who mean to stay at home) for this expedition, are 
as conspicuous as possible ; however, I am sure I 
will become very ridiculous, and laughed at. My 
expedition will be as famous as the secret expedition 
against Rhode Island. I confess, my dear general, 
that I find myself of very quick feelings whenever 
my reputation and glory are concerned in anything. 
It is very hard indeed that such a part of my hap- 
piness, without which I cannot live, should depend 
upon schemes which I never knew of but when 
there was no time to put them into execution. I 
assure you, my most dear and respected friend, 
that I am more unhappy than I ever was. 

My desire of doing something was such, that I 
have thought of doing it by surprise with a detach- 
ment, but it seems to me rash and quite impossible. 
I should be very happy if you were here to give me 
some advice ; but I have nobody to consult with. 

160 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

They have sent to me more than twenty French 
officers ; I do not know what to do with them ; I 
beg you will acquaint me the line of conduct you 
advise me to follow on every point. I am at a loss 
how to act, and indeed I do not know what I am 
here for myself. However, as being the eldest officer, 
(after General Arnold has desired me to take the 
command,) I think it is my duty to mind the busi- 
ness of this part of America as well as I can. Ge- 
neral Gates holds yet the title and power of com- 
mander-in-chief of the Northern department ; but, 
as two hundred thousand dollars are arrived, I have 
taken upon myself to pay the most necessary part 
of the debts we are involved in. I am about send- 
ing provisions to Fort Schuyller : I will go to see 
the fort. I will try to get some clothes for the troops, 
to buy some articles for the next campaign. I have 
directed some money to be borrowed upon my 
credit to satisfy the troops, who are much discon- 
tented. In all I endeavour to do for the best, 
though I have no particular authority or instruc- 
tions ; and I will come as near as I can to General 
Gates's intentions, but I want much to get an an- 
swer to my letters. 

I fancy (between us) that the actual scheme is to 
have me out of this part of the continent, and Ge- 
neral Conway in chief, under the immediate direc- 
tion of General Gates. How they will bring it up I 
do not know, but you may be sure something of that 
kind will appear. You are nearer than myself, and 
every honest man in congress is your friend ; there- 
fore you may foresee and prevent, if possible, the 
evil a hundred times better than I can : I would 
only give that idea to your excellency. 

After having written in Europe (by the desire of 
the members of congress) so many fine things about 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 161 

my commanding an army, I shall be ashamed if no- 
thing can be done by me in that way. I am told 
General Putnam is recalled ; but your excellency 
knows better than I do what would be convenient, 
therefore I don't want to mind these things myself. 
Will you be so good as to present my respects to 
your lady. With the most tender affection and 
highest respect, I have the honour to be, 




Head Quarters, 10th March, 1778. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, I have had the pleasure of 
receiving your two favours of the 19th and 23rd of 
February, and hasten to dispel those fears respect- 
ing your reputation, which are excited only by an 
uncommon degree of sensibility. You seem to ap- 
prehend that censure, proportioned to the disap- 
pointed expectations of the world, will fall on you 
in consequence of the failure of the Canadian expe- 
dition. But, in the first place, it will be no disad- 
vantage to you to have it known in Europe that 
you had received so manifest a proof of the good 
opinion and confidence of congress as an important 
detached command ; and I am persuaded that every 
one will applaud your prudence in renouncing: a 
project, in pursuing which you would vainly have 
attempted physical impossibilities ; indeed, unless 
you can be chargeable with the invariable effects of 
natural causes, and be arraigned for not suspending 
the course of the seasons, to accommodate your 

VOL. I. M 

162 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

march over the lake, the most prompt to slander 
can have nothing to found blame upon. 

However sensibly your ardour for glory may 
make you feel this disappointment, you may be as- 
sured that your character stands as fair as ever it 
did, and that no new enterprise is necessary to wipe 
off this imaginary stain. The expedition which you 
hint at I think unadvisable in our present circum- 
stances. Anything in the way of a formal attack, 
which would necessarily be announced to the enemy 
by preparatory measures, would not be likely to 
succeed. If a stroke is meditated in that quarter, 
it must be effected by troops stationed at a proper 
distance for availing themselves of the first favour- 
able opportunity offered by the enemy, and success 
would principally depend upon the suddenness of 
the attempt. This, therefore, must rather be the 
effect of time and chance than premeditation. You 
undoubtedly have determined judiciously in waiting 
the further orders of congress. Whether they allow 
me the pleasure of seeing you shortly, or destine 
you to a longer absence, you may assure yourself 
of the sincere good wishes of, 

Dear Sir, &c. 

P. S. Your directing payment of such debts as 
appear to be most pressing is certainly right. There 
is not money enough to answer every demand ; and 
I wish your supplies of clothing had been better. 
Your ordering a large supply of provisions into Fort 
Schuyler was a very judicious measure, and I thank 
you for it. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 163 


Albany, March 12th. 

PERMIT me to express my satisfaction at your having 
seen General Washington. No enemies to that 
great man can be found except among the enemies 
to his country ; nor is it possible for any man of a 
noble spirit to refrain from loving the excellent qua- 
lities of his heart. I think I know him as well as 
any person, and such is the idea which I have 
formed of him ; his honesty, his frankness, his sen- 
sibility, his virtue, to the full extent in which this 
word can be understood, are above all praise. It is 
not for me to judge of his military talents ; but, ac- 
cording to my imperfect knowledge of these matters, 
his advice in council has always appeared to me the 
best, although his modesty prevents him sometimes 
from sustaining it ; and his predictions have gene- 
rally been fulfilled. I am the more happy in giving 
you this opinion of my friend with all the sincerity 
which I feel, because some persons may perhaps 
attempt to deceive you on this point. 



Albany, 20th March, 1778. 

.... His Excellency General Washington will, I 
believe, mention to congress that, at the request of 
the commissioners of Indian affairs, I send Colonel 

M 2 

164 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

Gouvion, and have given proper directions for the 
building of a small fort, which they and myself have 
thought very necessary to he granted to the Oney- 
das. The love of the French blood, mixed with the 
love of some French Louis d'or, have engaged those 
Indians to promise they would come with me.* 

As I am very certain the Congress of the United 
States will not propose anything to me but con- 
sistent with my feelings and the sentiment I flatter 
myself to have obtained from them, I can assure 
them, by advance, that any post they will give, any 
disposition they will make, with such manners, will 
be cheerfully received and complied to by me with 
acknowledgment. However, I will beg leave to 
say, that any command, whatever honourable it may 
be, where I would not be so near the danger or 
occasions of doing something, I shall always look 
upon as not suited to me. 

I never mentioned to congress a long letter I have 
written, four months ago, to France, about a pro- 
ject for the East Indies, to which I expect the 
answer. Was I to succeed in my expectation, it 
would bring, soon, that so much desired French war, 
in spite of some peaceful men, and be of some use 
to the noble cause of freedom, without bringing the 
continent in any expense. 

With the greatest respect, I have the honour to 
be, &c. 

* M. de Lafayette, during this journey, some curious 
relations with the Indian, in a letter of the 27th of February, 
to General Washington, which, being void of interest in other 
respects, has been suppressed. It appears that he was solicited 
by General Schuyler to be present at a numerous meeting of 
Indians, convoked for a treaty. The traces of those communi- 
cations will be found further. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 165 


Albany, 25th March, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL,-T-HOW happy I have been in 
receiving your excellency's favour of the tenth 
present; I hope you will be convinced by the 
knowledge of my tender affection for you. I am 
very sensible of that goodness which tries to dissi- 
pate my fears about that ridiculous Canadian expe- 
dition. At the present time we know which was 
the aim of the honourable board, and for which 
project three or four men have rushed the country 
into a great expense, and risked the reputation of 
our arms, and the life of many hundred men, had 
the general, your deceived friend, been as rash and 
foolish as they seem to have expected. O, American 
freedom, what shall become of you if you are in 
such hands ? 

I have received a letter from the board and a 
resolve of congress,* by which you are directed to 
recall me and the Baron de Kalb, whose presence is 
deemed absolutely necessary to your army. I be- 
lieve this of General Conway is absolutely necessary 
to Albany, and he has received orders to stay there, 
which I have no objection to, as nothing, perhaps, 
will be done in this quarter but some disputes of 
Indians and tories. However, you know I have 
wrote to congress, and as soon as their leave will 

* That congress entertain a high sense of his prudence, acti- 
vity, and zeal, and that they are fully persuaded nothing has 
or would have been wanting on his part, or on the part of his 
officers who accompanied him, to give the expedition the utmost 
possible effect. (Secret Journal, March 2.) 

166 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

come, I shall let Conway have the command of these 
few regiments, and I shall immediately join my 
respectable friend ; but till I have received instruc- 
tions for leaving that place from yourself, I shall 
stay, as powerful commander-in-chief, as if con- 
gress had never resolved my presence absolutely 
necessary for the great army. 

Since your last letter, I have given up the idea of 
New York, and my only desire is to join you. 
The only favour I have asked of your commissioners 
in France, has been, not to be under any orders but 
those of General Washington. I seem to have had 
an anticipation of our future friendship, and what I 
have done out of esteem and respect for your excel- 
lency's name and reputation, I should do now out 
of mere love for General Washington himself. I 
am glad to hear General Greene is quarter-master- 
general ; it is very interesting to have there an honest 
man and a friend of yours. But I feel the greatest 
pain not to hear anything about reinforcements. 
What can you do with a handful of men, and my 
poor division, whom I was so desirous of instructing, 
clothing, managing myself in the winter, whom, I 
was told, I should find six thousand strong at the 
opening of the campaign ? Don't your excellency 
think that I could recruit a little in General Greene's 
division now that he is quarter-master-general ? By 
that promotion I find myself very proud to be the 
third officer of your army. 

With the utmost respect and affection, I have the 
honour to be, &c. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 167 


Valley Forge Camp, in Pennsylvania, April 14th, 1778. 

IF thirty opportunities were to present themselves 
at once, my dearest love, you may rest assured that 
I would write thirty letters ; and that, if you do 
not receive any news from me, I have nothing, at 
least, to reproach myself with. This letter will be 
accompanied by others, saying nearly the same 
things, and having nearly the same date ; but acci- 
dents are unfortunately very common, and by this 
means, some letters may reach you safely. Re- 
specting your own, my love, I prefer accusing fate, 
the waves, Lord Howe, and the devil, to suspecting 
you for one moment of negligence. I am convinced 
that you will not allow a single opportunity to 
escape of writing to me ; but I should feel, if pos- 
sible, still more so, if I could only hope that you 
knew the degree of happiness your letters give me. 
I love you more ardently than ever, and repeated 
assurances of your affection are absolutely necessary 
to my repose, and to that species of felicity which 
I can enjoy whilst separated from all I love most 
fondly if, however, the word felicity can be applied 
to my melancholy, exiled state. Endeavour to afford 
me some consolation, and neglect no opportunity of 
writing to me. Millions of ages have elapsed since 
I have received a line from any one. This complete 
ignorance of the situation of all those who are most 
dear to me, is, indeed, a dreadful calamity : I have, 
however, some reason to believe that it cannot last 
for ever ; the scene will soon become interesting ; 
France must take some decisive part, and vessels 
will then arrive with letters. I can give you no 
news at present ; we are all in a state of repose, 

168 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

and are waiting with impatience for the opening 
campaign to awaken us from our stupor. In my 
other letters, I mentioned my journey to Albany, 
and my visit to an assembly of savages. I am ex- 
pecting some good Iroquois who have promised to 
rejoin me here. Either after, or before receiving 
this letter, Madame d'Ayen, the viscountess, and 
my grandfather,* will receive letters by an opportu- 
nity which, I believe, is more secure than the one 
I am now writing by ; I have written a longer letter 
to you also at the same time. I write an immense 
number of epistles ; God grant that they may 
arrive ! Present my affectionate respects to your 
mother, and my grandfather ; embrace a thousand 
times the viscountess and my sisters ; recall me to 
the remembrance of the Countess Auguste, Madame 
de Fronsac, and all your and my friends. Embrace 
a thousand times our dearest family. When shall 
I be able to assure you, my dearest life, that I love 
you better than any other person in the world, and 
that I shall love you as long as I live ? Adieu ; I 
only look upon this letter as a note. 

Present my respects to the Marshal de Noailles, 
and tell him that I have sent him some trees from 
Albany ; but I will send him others also at various 
times, that I may feel certain of his receiving a few 
of them. When you present my compliments to 
my acquaintance, do not forget the Chevalier de 

* The Count de la Riviere, (Charles-Ives-Thibault), lieu- 
tenant-captain of the black musketeers, was grandfather of the 
mother of M. de Lafayette of whom he had been appointed 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 169 


Germantown, April 28th, 1778. 

I WRITE to you, my dearest love, by a very strange 
opportunity, since it is an English officer who has 
taken charge of my letter. But your wonder will 
cease, when you hear that that officer is my friend 
Fit z -Patrick.* He is returning to England, and I 
could not resist my wish of embracing him before 
his departure. It was the first time we had met un- 
armed in America, and that manner of meeting 
suits us both much better than the hostile appear- 
ance which we had, until now, thought proper to 
affect. It is long since I have received any news 
from France, and I am very impatiently expecting 
letters. Write frequently, my love, I need the con- 
solation of hearing often from you during this pain- 
ful separation. There is no important news ; neither 
would it be proper for Mr. Fitz-Patrick to carry 
political news from a hand at present engaged in 
fighting with his army. I am in perfect health ; 
my wound is completely healed, but my heart is far 
from being tranquil, for I am far from all those I 
love ; and my anxiety about them, as well as my 
impatience to behold" them, increase every hour. 
Say a thousand things for me to all my friends ; 
present my respects to Madame d'Ayen, and to the 
Marshal de Noailles. Embrace, above all, our chil- 
dren, my dearest love, and be convinced yourself 
that every moment that separates me from you and 

-j- M. de Lafayette had become very intimate with him in 
England : he is the same General Fitz-Patrick, who made two 
famous motions in the House of Commons ; the one March 17th, 
1794, for the prisoners of Magdebourg, and the other, December 
16th, 1796, for the prisoners of Olmutz. 

170 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

them appears to me an age. Adieu ; I must quit 
you, for the hour is far advanced, and to-morrow 
will not be an idle day. Adieu, Adieu ! 



Valley Forge Camp, the 19th May, 1778. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Agreeable to your excel- 
lency's orders, I have taken the oath of the gentle- 
men officers in General Woodford's brigade, and 
their certificates have been sent to the adjutant- 
general's office. Give me leave, now, to present 
you with some observations delivered to me by 
many officers in that brigade, who desire me to 
submit them to your perusal. I know, sir, (besides 
I am not of their opinion in the fact itself,) that I 
should not accept for you the objections those gen- 
tlemen could have had, as a body, to any order from 
congress ; but I confess the desire of being agree- 
able to them, of giving them any mark of friend- 
ship and affection which is in my power, and ac- 
knowledging the kind sentiments they honour me 
with, have been my first and dearest considerations. 
Besides that, be pleased to consider that they began 
by obeying orders, and want only to let their be- 
loved general know which were the reasons of their 
being rather reluctant (as far as reluctance may 
comply with their duty and honour) to an oath, the 
meaning and spirit of which was, I believe, misun- 
derstood by them. I may add, sir, with a perfect 
conviction, that there is not one among them but 
would be thrice happy were occasions offered 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 171 

to them of distinguishing yet, by new exertions, 
their love for their country, their zeal for their duty 
as officers, their consideration for the civil superior 
power, and their love for your excellency. 

With the greatest respect and most tender affec- 
tion, I have the honour to be, &c. 



Camp, 17th May, 1778. 

DEAR SIR, I received yesterday your favour of the 
1 5th instant, enclosing a paper subscribed by sundry 
officers of General Woodford's brigade, setting forth 
the reasons for not taking the oath of abjuration, 
allegiance, and office ; and I thank you much for 
the cautious delicacy used in communicating the 
matter to me. As every oath should be a free act 
of the mind, founded on the conviction of its pro- 
priety, I would not wish, in any instance, that there 
should be the least degree of compulsion exercised ; 
nor to interpose my opinion, in order to induce any 
to make it of whom it is required. The gentlemen, 
therefore, who signed the paper, will use their own 
discretion in the matter, and swear, or not swear, 
as their conscience and feelings dictate. 

At the same time, I cannot but consider it as a 
circumstance of some singularity, that the scruples 
against the oath should be peculiar to the officers of 
one brigade, and so very extensive. The oath in 
itself is not new. It is substantially the same with 
that required in all governments, and, therefore, 

172 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

does not imply any indignity ; and it is perfectly 
consistent with the professions, actions, and implied 
engagements of every officer. The objection founded 
on the supposed unsettled rank of the officers, is of 
no validity, rank being only mentioned as a further 
designation of the party swearing ; nor can it be 
seriously thought that the oath is either intended to 
prevent, or can prevent, their being promoted, or 
their resignation. 

The fourth objection, stated by the gentlemen, 
serves as a key to their scruples ; and I would wil- 
lingly persuade myself, that their own reflections will 
point out to them the impropriety of the whole pro- 
ceeding, and not suffer them to be betrayed in 
future into a similar conduct. I have a regard for 
them all, and cannot but regret that they were ever 
engaged in the measure. I am certain they will regret 
it themselves ; sure I am that they ought. I am, 
my dear marquis, vour affectionate friend and 



SIR, The detachment under your command, with 
which you will immediately march towards the 
enemy's lines, is designed to answer the following 

* This instruction has been inserted as the one which M. de 
Lafayette received to repair, as a detached body, betwixt the 
Delaware and Schuylkill. It was after this movement that he 
made the retreat of Barren Hill, which was praised by General 
Washington. (See the Memoirs, in Mr. Spark's collection, the 
letter of Washington, May 24th, 1778.) 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 173 

purposes ; namely, to be a security to this camp, 
and a cover to the country, between the Delaware 
and the Schuylkill, to interrupt the communication 
with Philadelphia, to obstruct the incursions of the 
enemy's parties, and to obtain intelligence of their 
motions and designs. This last is a matter of very 
interesting moment, and ought to claim your par- 
ticular attention. You will endeavour to procure 
trusty and intelligent spies, who will advise you 
faithfully of whatever may be passing in the city, 
and you will, without delay, communicate to me 
every piece of material information you obtain. A 
variety of concurring accounts make it probable 
that the enemy are preparing to evacuate Philadel- 
phia ; this is a point of the utmost importance to 
ascertain, and, if possible, the place of their future 
destination. Should you be able to gain certain 
intelligence of the time of their intended embark- 
ation, so that you may be able to take advantage of 
it, and fall upon the rear of the enemy in the act of 
withdrawing, it will be a very desirable event ; but 
this will be a matter of no small difficulty, and will 
require the greatest caution and prudence in the 
execution. Any deception or precipitation may be 
attended with the most disastrous consequences. 

You will remember that your detachment is a very 
valuable one, and that any accident happening to it 
would be a severe blow to this army ; you will, 
therefore, use every possible precaution for its 
security, and to guard against a surprise. No at- 
tempt should be made, nor anything risked, without 
the greatest prospect of success, and with every 
reasonable advantage on your side. I shall not 
point out any precise position to you, but shall 
leave it to your discretion to take such posts occa- 
sionally, as shall appear to you best adapted to the 

174 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

purposes of your detachment. In general, I would 
observe, that a stationary post is unadvisable, as it 
gives the enemy an opportunity of knowing your 
situation, and concerting plans successfully against 
you. In case of any offensive movement against this 
army, you will keep yourself in such a state as to 
have an easy communication with it, and, at the 
same time, harass the enemy's advance. 

Our parties of horse and foot, between the rivers, 
are to be under your command, and to form part of 
your detachment. As great complaints have been 
made of the disorderly conduct of the parties which 
have been sent towards the enemy's lines, it is ex- 
pected that you will be very attentive in preventing 
abuses of the like nature, and will inquire how far 
complaints already made are founded in justice. 

Given under my hand, at head quarters, this 18th 
May, 1778. 


Valley Forge Camp, June 16, 1778. 

CHANCE has furnished me, my dearest love, with a 
very uncertain opportunity of writing to you, but, 
such as it is, I shall take advantage of it, for I 
cannot resist the wish of saying a few words to you. 
You must have received many letters from me 
lately, if my writing unceasingly, at least, may 
justify this hope. Several vessels have sailed, all 
laden with my letters. My expressions of heart- 
felt grief must even have added to your distress. 
What a dreadful thing is absence ! I never expe- 
rienced before all the horrors of separation. My 
own deep sorrow is aggravated by the feeling that I 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 175 

am not able to share and sympathize in your an- 
guish. The length of time that elapsed before I 
heard of this event had also increased my misery. 
Consider, my love, how dreadful it must be to weep 
for what I have lost, and tremble for what remains. 
The distance between Europe and America appears 
to me more enormous than ever. The loss of our 
poor child is almost constantly in my thoughts : this 
sad news followed immediately that of the treaty ; 
and whilst my heart was torn by grief, I was obliged 
to receive and take part in expressions of public 
joy. I learnt, at the same time, the loss of our 
little Adrien, for I always considered that child as my 
own, and I regretted him as I should have done a son. 
I have written twice to the viscount and viscountess, 
to express to them my deep regret, and I hope my 
letters will reach them safely. I am writing only to 
you at present, because I neither know when the 
vessel sails, nor when she will arrive, and I am told 
that a packet will soon set out which will probably 
reach Europe first. 

I received letters from M. de Cambrai and 
M. Carmichael. The first one will be employed, 
I hope, in an advantageous and agreeable manner ; 
the second, whom I am expecting with great impa- 
tience, has not yet arrived at the army : how de- 
lighted I shall be to see him, and talk to him about 
you ! he will come to the camp as soon as possible. 
We are expecting every day news from Europe ; 
they will be deeply interesting, especially to me, 
who offer up such earnest prayers for the success 
and glory of my country. The King of Prussia, it 
is said, has entered into Bohemia, and has for- 
gotten to declare war. If a conflict were to take 
place between France and England, I should prefer 
our being left completely to ourselves, and that the 

176 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

rest of Europe should content herself with looking 
on ; we should, in that case, have a glorious war, 
and our successes would be of a kind to please and 
gratify the nation. 

If the unfortunate news had reached me sooner, 
I should have set out immediately to rejoin you ; 
but the account of the treaty, which we received 
the first of May, prevented my leaving this 
country. The opening campaign does not allow me 
to retire. I have always been perfectly convinced 
that by serving the cause of humanity, and that of 
America, I serve also the interest of France. An- 
other motive for remaining longer is, that the com- 
missioners have arrived, and that I am well pleased 
to be within reach of the negotiations. To be useful 
in any way to my country will always be agreeable 
to me. I do not understand why a minister pleni- 
potentiary, or something of that kind, has not been 
already sent to America ; I am most anxious to see 
one, provided always it may not be myself, for I am 
but little disposed to quit the military career to enter 
into the diplomatic corps. 

There is no news here ; the only topic of conver- 
sation is the news from Europe, and to that many 
idle tales are always prefixed : there has been little 
action on either side ; the only important affair was 
the one which fell to my share the 20th of last 
month, and there was not any blood shed even 

General Washington had entrusted me to conduct 
a detachment of two thousand four hundred chosen 
men to the vicinity of Philadelphia. It would be 
too long to explain to you the cause, but it will suf- 
fice to tell you, that, in spite of all my precautions, 
I could not prevent the hostile army from making 
a nocturnal march, and I found myself the next 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 177 

morning with part of the army in front, and seven 
thousand men in my rear. These gentlemen were so 
obliging as to take measures for sending to New 
York those who should not be killed ; but they were 
so kind, also, as to permit us to retire quietly, with- 
out doing us any injury. We had about six or 
seven killed or wounded, and they twenty-five or 
thirty, which did not make them amends for a 
march, in which one part of the army had been 
obliged to make forty miles. 

Some days afterwards, our situation having 
altered, I returned to the camp, and no events of 
importance have occurred since. We are expect- 
ing the evacuation of Philadelphia, which must, we 
fancy, soon take place. I have been told that on 
the 10th of April they were thinking of negotiating 
rather than of fighting, and that England was be- 
coming each day more humble. 

If this letter ever reaches you, my dearest love, 
present my respects to the Duke d'Ayen, the Mar- 
shal de Noailles, and Madame de Tessd, to whom I 
have written by every vessel, although she accuses 
me of having neglected her, which my heart is in- 
capable of doing. I have also written to Madame 
d'Ayen by the two last ships, and by several pre- 
vious ones. Embrace a thousand times the dear 
viscountess, and tell her how well I love her. A 
thousand tender regards to my sisters ; a thousand 
affectionate ones to the viscount, M. de Poix, to 
Coigny,* Segur, his brother, Etienne,f and all my 
other friends. Embrace, a million of times, our 
little Anastasia ; alas ! she alone remains to us ! I 
feel that she has engrossed the affection that was 

* Probably the Marquis de Coigny. 
t The Count Etienne de Durfort, now peer of France. 
VOL. I. N 

178 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

once divided between my two children : take great 
care of her. Adieu ; I know not when this may 
reach you, and I even doubt its ever reaching you. 



SIR, You are immediately to proceed with the 
detachment commanded by General Poor, and form 
a junction, as expeditiously as possible, with that 
under the command of General Scott. You are to 
use the most effectual means for gaining the enemy's 
left flank and rear, and giving them every degree of 
annoyance. All continental parties that are already 
on the lines, will be under yourcommand, and you 
will take such measures, in concert with General 
Dickinson, as will cause the enemy the greatest im- 
pediment and loss in their march. For these pur- 
poses you will attack them, as occasion may require, 
by detachment, and if a proper opening could be 
given, by operating against them with the whole 
force of your command. You will naturally take 
such precautions as will secure you against surprise, 
and maintain your communications with this army. 
Given at Kingston, this 25th day of June, 1778. 



Ice Town, 26th June, 1778, at a quarter after seven. 
DEAR GENERAL, I hope you have received my 
letter from Cranberry, where I acquaint you that I 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 179 

am going to Ice Town, though we are short of pro- 
visions. When I got there, I was sorry to hear 
that Mr. Hamilton, who had been riding all the 
night, had not been able to find anybody who could 
give him certain intelligence ; but by a party who 
came back, I hear the enemy are in motion, and 
their rear about one mile off the place they 
had occupied last night, which is seven or eight 
miles from here. I immediately put Generals 
Maxwell and Wayne's brigades in motion, and I 
will fall lower down, with General Scott's, with 
Jackson's regiment, and some militia. I should be 
very happy if we could attack them before they 
halt, for I have no notion of taking one other mo- 
ment but this of the march. If I cannot overtake 
them, we could lay at some distance, and attack to- 
morrow morning, provided they don't escape in the 
night, which I much fear, as our intelligences are 
not the best ones. I have sent some parties out, 
and I will get some more light by them. 

I fancy your excellency will move down with the 
army, and if we are at a convenient distance from 
you, I have nothing to fear in striking a blow if 
opportunity is offered. I believe that, in our pre- 
sent strength, provided they do not escape, we may do 

General Forman says that, on account of the 
nature of the country, it is impossible for me to be 
turned by the right or left, but that I shall not quite 
depend upon. 

An officer just from the lines confirms the 
account of the enemy moving. An intelligence 
from General Dickinson says that they hear a very 
heavy fire in the front of the enemy's column. I 
apprehend it is Morgan, who had not received my 

N 2 

180 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

letter, but it will have the good effect of stopping 
them, and if we attack, he may hegin again. 

Sir, I want to repeat you in writing what I have 
told to you, which is, that if you believe it, or if it 
is believed necessary or useful to the good of the 
service and the honour of General Lee, to send 
him down with a couple of thousand men, or any 
greater force ; I will cheerfully obey and serve him, 
not only out of duty, but out of what I owe to that 
gentleman's character. 

I hope to receive, soon, your orders as to what I 
am to do this day or to-morrow, to know where 
you are and what you intend, and would be very 
happy to furnish you with the opportunity of com- 
pleting some little advantage of ours. 


The road I understand the enemy are moving by, 
is the straight road to Monmouth. 



Cranberry, 26th June, 1778. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, General Lee's uneasiness, on 
account of yesterday's transaction, rather increasing 
than abating, and your politeness in wishing to ease 
him of it, have induced me to detach him from this 
army with a part of it, to reinforce, or at least cover, 
the several detachments at present under your com- 
mand. At the same time, that I felt for General 
Lee's dis' ress of mind, I have had an eye to your 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1773. 181 

wishes and the delicacy of your situation ; and have, 
therefore, obtained a promise from him, that when 
he gives you notice of his approach and command, 
he will request you to prosecute any plan you may 
have already concerted for the purpose of attacking, 
or otherwise annoying the enemy ; this is the only 
expedient I could think of to answer the views of 
both. General Lee seems satisfied with the mea- 
sure, and I wish it may prove agreeable to you, as 
I am, with the warmest wishes for your honour and 
glory, and with the sincerest esteem and affection, 
yours, &c.* 



White Plains, 22nd July, 1778. 

SIR, You are to have the immediate command of 
that detachment from this army, which consists of 
Glover's and Varnum's brigades, and the detach- 
ment under the command of Colonel Henry Jackson. 
You are to march them, with all convenient expedi- 
tion, and by the best routes, to Providence, in the 
state of Rhode Island. When there, you are to 
subject yourself to the orders of Major- General Sul- 

* The combination offered by M. de Lafayette, and desired 
by General Washington, did not prove successful. In spite of 
the happy issue of the battle of Monmouth, the results were 
not such as might have been expected, on account of the con- 
duct of General Lee, who was summoned before a court martial, 
and condemned to be suspended for one year. (See on 'Ihis 
subject the Memoirs of the Life of Washington, by Marshall, ttid 
the Appendix No. 8, of the 5th vol. of theLetters of Washing* ;n.) 

f Order for the expedition of Rhode Island. 

182 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

livan, who will have the command of the expedition 
against Newport, and the British and other troops 
in their pay, on that and the Islands adjacent. 

If, on your march, you should receive certain intel- 
ligence of the evacuation of Rhode Island, by the 
enemy, you are immediately to counter -march for 
this place, giving me the earliest advice thereof. 
Having the most perfect reliance on your activity 
and zeal, and wishing you all the success, honour, 
and glory, that your heart can wish, I am, with the 
most perfect regard, yours, &c. 



Head Quarters, White Plains, 27th July, 1778. 
DEAR MARQUIS, This will be delivered to you hy 
Major-General Greene, whose thorough knowledge 
of Rhode Island, of which he is a native, and the 
influence he will have with the people, put it in his 
power to be particularly useful in the expedition 
against that place, as well in providing necessaries 
for carrying it on, as in assisting to form and execute 
a plan of operations proper for the occasion. The 
honour and interest of the common cause are so 
deeply concerned in the success of this enterprise, 
that it appears to me of the greatest importance to 
omit no step which may conduce to it ; and General 
Greene, on several accounts, will be able to render 
very essential service. 

These considerations have determined me to send 
him on the expedition, in which, as he could not 
with propriety act, nor be equally useful merely in 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 183 

his official capacity as quartermaster-general, I have 
concluded to give him a command in the troops to 
be employed in the descent. I have, therefore, di- 
rected General Sullivan to throw all the American 
troops, both continental, state, and militia, into two 
divisions, making an equal distribution of each, to 
be under the immediate command of General Greene 
and yourself. The continental troops being divided 
in this manner, with the militia, will serve to give 
them confidence, and probably make them act better 
than they would alone. Though this arrangement 
will diminish the number of continental troops under 
you, yet this diminution will be more than compen- 
sated by the addition of militia ; and I persuade 
myself your command will not be less agreeable, or 
less honourable, from this change in the disposition. 
I am, with great esteem and affection, dear marquis, 
your most obedient servant. 



Providence, 6th August, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, I have received your excellency's 
favour by General Greene, and have been much 
pleased with the arrival of a gentleman who, not 
only on account of his merit, and the justness of 
his views, but also by his knowledge of the country, 
and his popularity in this state, may be very service- 
able to the expedition. I willingly part with the 
half of my detachment, though I had a great de- 
pendence upon them, as you find it convenient to 
the good of the service. Any thing, my dear 
General, you will order, or even wish, shall always 

184 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

be infinitely agreeable to me, and I will always feel 
happy in doing any thing which may please you, or 
forward the public good. I am of the same opinion 
as your excellency, that dividing our continental 
troops among the militia, will have a better effect 
than if we were to keep them together in one wing. 

You will receive, by General Sullivan, an account 
of his dispositions, preparations, &c. ; I, therefore, 
have nothing to add, but that I have been on board 
of the Admiral* the day before yesterday. I saw 
among the fleet an ardour and a desire of doing 
something, which would soon turn into impatience, 
if we don't give them a speedy occasion of fighting. 
The officers cannot contain their soldiers and sailors, 
who are complaining that they have been these four 
months running after the British, without getting at 
them ; but I hope they will be soon satisfied. 

The Count d'Estaing was very glad of my arrival, 
as he could open freely his mind to me. He ex- 
pressed the greatest anxiety on account of his wants 
of every kind, provisions, water, &c. ; he hopes the 
taking of Rhode Island will enable him to get some 
of the two abovementioned articles. The admiral 
wants me to join the French troops to these I com- 
mand, as soon as possible. I confess I feel very 
happy to think of my co-operating with them, and, 
had I contrived in my mind an agreeable dream, I 
could not have wished a more pleasing event than 
my joining my countrymen with my brothers of 
America, under my command, and the same 

* Admiral d'Estaing. It was the 8th July that the French 
fleet appeared at the entrance of the Delaware. It was at this 
period stationed before Newport, below the passage, betwixt 
Rhode Island and Long Island. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 185 

standards. When I left Europe, I was very far 
from hoping such an agreeable turn of our business 
in the American glorious revolution. 

Though I have no account, neither observations, 
to give to your excellency, as I am here a man of 
war of the third rate, I will, after the expedition, 
scribble some lines to you, and join to the account 
of General Sullivan, the assurance that I have all 
my limbs, and that I am, with the most tender affec- 
tion, and entire confidence, yours, with high respect. 


White Plains, 10th August, 1778. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, Your favour of the6th instant, 
which came to my hands yesterday, afforded a fresh 
proof of the noble principles on which you act, and 
has a just claim to my sincere and hearty thanks. 
The common cause, of which you have been a zealous 
supporter, would, I knew, be benefitted by General 
Greene's presence at Rhode Island, as he is a native 
of that state, has an interest with the people, and a 
thorough knowledge of the country, and, therefore, 
I accepted his proffered services ; but I was a little 
uneasy, lest you should conceive that it was intended 
to lessen your command. General Greene did not 
incline to act in a detached part of the army, merely 
as quartermaster-general ; nor was it to be expected^. 
It became necessary, therefore, to give him a de- 
tached command, and consequently to divide the 
continental troops. Your cheerful acquiescence in 
the measure, after being appointed to the command 

186 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

of the brigades which marched from this army, 
obviated every difficulty, and gave me singular 

I am very happy to find that the standards of 
France and America are likely to be united under 
your command, at Rhode Island. I am persuaded, 
that the supporters of each will be emulous to acquire 
honour, and promote your glory upon this occasion. 
The courier to Count d'Estaing is waiting. I have 
only time, therefore, to assure you, that, with most 
perfect esteem, and exalted regard, I have the honour 
to be, my dear marquis, your obedient and affec- 
tionate servant. 



Camp before Newport, 25th August, 1778. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, I had expected in answer- 
ing your first letter that something interesting 
would have happened that I might communicate to 
your excellency. Every day was going to termi- 

* The circumstances which gave rise to this letter are men- 
tioned in the memoirs. The following details will still further 
explain them : 

When the storm had dispersed his fleet, M. de Estaing wrote 
a very remarkable letter to General Sullivan, in which he ex- 
plained to him the impossibility of remaining in sight of Rhode 
Island without danger, and without disobeying the precise orders 
of the king. He expressed his regret that the landing of the 
Americans in the island, which had been effected one day 
before the day agreed upon, should not have been protected by 
the vessels ; and he rejected strongly the imputation of having 
blamed him under these circumstances for having operated so 
early, and with only two thousand men. To his great regret, 
his situation obliged him to answer the proposal of a combined 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 187 

nate our uncertainties ; nay, every day was going 
to bring the hope of a success which I did promise 
myself to acquaint you of. Such was the reason of 
my deferring what my duty and inclination did urge 
me to do much sooner. I am now indebted for two 
favours of yours, which I beg leave to offer here my 
thanks for. The first letter reached me in the time 
we expected to hear again from the French fleet ; 
the second I have just received. My reason for 
not writing the same day the French fleet went to 
Boston was, that I did not choose to trouble your 
friendship with the sentiments of an afflicted, in- 
jured heart, and injured by that very people I came 
from so far to love and support. Don't be sur- 
prised, my dear general ; the generosity of your ho- 
nest mind would be offended at the shocking sight 
I have under my eyes. 

So far am I from a critical disposition that I will 
not give you the journal of our operations, neither 
of several instances during our staying here, which, 
however, might occupy some room in this letter. I 

attack, by a refusal. This answer excited much dissatisfaction 
amongst the Americans. Their officers signed a protestation, 
which appears to have been considered by some of them as the 
means of seconding the secret inclination of the admiral by 
forcing him to fight. The report was spread, in truth, that a 
cabal in the naval force alone obliged him to make a retreat, 
from a feeling of jealousy of the glory which he might have ac- 
quired, as he had belonged formerly to the land forces. This 
protestation was carried to him by Colonel Laurens; after a 
recapitulation of all the arguments which might be used against 
the departure of the fleet, it terminated by the solemn declar- 
tion that that measure was derogatory to the honour of France, 
contrary to the intentions of his V. C. Majesty, and to the in- 
terests of the American nation, &c. When this protestation 
was submitted to congress, they immediately ordered that it 

188 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

will not even say to you, how contracted was the 
French fleet when they wanted to come in at their 
arrival; which, according to the report of the 
advertors, would have had the greatest effect. How 
surprised was the admiral, when, after a formal and 
agreed convention, one hour after the American 
general had given a new written assurance, our 
troops made the landing a day before it was ex- 
pected. How mortified the French officers were to 
find out that there was not a gun left in these very 
forts to whose protection they were recommended. 
All these things, and many others, I would not take 
notice of, if they were not at this moment the sup- 
posed ground upon which, it is said, that the Count 
d'Estaing is gone on to Boston. Believe me, my 
dear sir, upon my honour, the admirals, though a 
little astonished by some instances of conduct on 
our part, did consider them in the same light as you 

should be kept secret, and that M. Gerard should be informed 
of this order, which General Washington was charged with exe- 
cuting by every means in his power. 

General Sullivan issued the following order at the same 
time: " 

"it having been supposed, by some persons, that by the 
orders of the 21st instant, the commander-in-chief meant to in- 
sinuate that the departure of the French fleet was owing to a 
fixed determination not to assist in the present enterprise, and 
that, as the general did not wish to give the least colour to 
ungenerous and illiberal minds to make such an unfair inter- 
pretation, he thinks it necessary to say, that as he could not 
possibly be acquainted with the orders of the French admiral, 
he could not determine whether the removal of the fleet was 
absolutely necessary or not; and, therefore, did not mean to 
censure an act which those orders might render absolutely 
necessary." These details, borrowed from the edition of the 
writings of Washington, will explain some passages of this letter, 
and the sense of the following letters. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 189 

and myself would have done, and if he is gone off, 
it is because he thought himself obliged by neces- 

Let us consider, my dear general, the motions of 
that fleet since it was proposed by the Count 
d'Estaing himself, and granted by the king in be- 
half of the United States. I will not go so far up 
as to remember other instances of the affection the 
French nation have for the Americans. The news 
of that fleet have occasioned the evacuation of Phil- 
adelphia. Its arrival has opened all the harbours, 
secured all the coasts, obliged the British navy to be 
together. Six of those frigates, two of them I have 
seen, sufficient for terrifying all the trading people 
of the two Carolinas, are taken or burnt. The 
Count d'Estaing went to offer battle, and act as a 
check to the British navy for a long time. At New 
York, it was agreed he should go to Rhode Island, 
and there he went. They prevented him from 
going in at first ; afterwards, he was desired to 
come in, and so he did. The same day we landed 
without his knowledge ; an English fleet appears in 
sight. His being divided into three parts by our 
directions, for, though he is a lieutenant-general, 
he never availed himself of that title, made him 
uneasy about his situation. But finding the next 
morning that the wind was northerly, being also 
convinced that it was his duty to prevent any re- 
inforcement at Newport, he goes out under the 
hottest fire of the British land batteries, he puts the 
British navy to flight, and pursues them, and they 
were ah 1 in his hands when that horrid storm arrives 
to ruin all our hopes. Both fleets are divided, scat- 
tered ; the Csesar, a 74 gun ship, is lost ; the Mar- 
seillais, of the same size, loses her masts, and after 

190 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

that accident is obliged to send back an enemy's 
ship of 64 ; the Languedoc having lost her masts, 
unable to be governed and make any motions, sepa- 
rated from the others, is attacked by a ship of the 
line against which she could only bring six guns. 

When the storm was over, they met again in a 
shattered condition, and the Csesar was not to be 
found. All the captains represented to their gene- 
ral that, after a so long navigation, in such a want 
of victuals, water, &c., which they had not been yet 
supplied with, after the intelligence given by 
General Sullivan that there was a British fleet 
coming, they should go to Boston ; but the Count 
d'Estaing had promised to come here again, and so 
he did at all events. The news of his arrival and 
situation came by the Senegal, a frigate taken from 
the enemy. General Greene and myself went on 
board. The count expressed to me not so much as 
to the envoy from General Sullivan, than as to his 
friend, the unhappy circumstances he was in. 
Bound by express orders from the King to go to 
Boston in case of an accident or a superior fleet, 
engaged by the common sentiment of all the officers, 
even of some American pilots, that he would ruin all 
his squadron in deferring his going to Boston, he 
called a new council of war, and finding every body 
of the same opinion, he did not think himself justi- 
fiable in staying here any longer, and took leave 
of me with true affliction not being able to assist 
America for some days, which has been rewarded 
with the most horrid ungratefulness ; but no matter. 
I am only speaking of facts. The count said to me 
these last words : after many months of sufferings, 
my men will rest some days ; I will man my ships, 
and, if I am assisted in getting masts, &c., three 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 191 

weeks after my arrival I shall go out again, and then 
we shall fight for the glory of the French name, and 
the interests of America. 

The day the count went off, the general American 
officers drew a protestation, which, as I had been 
very strangely called there, I refused to sign, hut I 
wrote a letter to the admiral. The protestation and 
the letter did not arrive in time. 

Now, my dear general, I am going to hurt your 
generous feelings by an imperfect picture of what 
1 am forced to see. Forgive me for it ; it is not 
to the commander-in-chief, it is to my most dearest 
friend, General Washington, that I am speaking. 
I want to lament with him the ungenerous senti- 
ments I have been forced to see in many American 

Could you believe, that forgetting any national 
obligation, forgetting what they were owing to that 
same fleet, what they were yet to expect from them, 
and instead of resenting their accidents as these, 
of allies and brothers, the people turned mad at 
their departure, and wishing them all the evils in 
the world, did treat them as a generous one would 
be ashamed to treat the most inveterate enemies. 
You cannot have any idea of the horrors which 
were to be heard in that occasion. Many leaders 
themselves finding they were disappointed, aband- 
oned their minds to illiberality and ungratefulness. 
Frenchmen of the highest character have been ex- 
posed to the most disagreeable circumstances, and 
yet, myself, the friend of America the friend 
of General Washington. I am more upon a warlike 
footing in the American lines, than when I come 
near the British lines at Newport. 

Such is, my dear general, the true state of 
matters. I am sure it will infinitely displease and 

192 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

hurt your feelings. I am also sure you will approve 
the part I have taken in it, which was to stay much 
at home with all the French gentlemen who are here, 
and declare, at the same time, that anything thrown 
before me against my nation I would take as the 
most particular affront. 

Inclosed I send you the general orders of the 24th, 
upon which I thought I was obliged to pay a visit 
to General Sullivan, who has agreed to alter them 
in the following manner. Remember, my dear 
general, that I don't speak to the commander-in- 
chief, but to my friend, that I am far from com- 
plaining of anybody. I have no complaints at all 
to make you against any one ; but I lament with 
you that I have had an occasion of seeing so un- 
generous sentiments in American hearts. 

I will tell you the true reason. The leaders of 
the expedition are, most of them, ashamed to return 
after having spoken of their Rhode Island success 
in proud terms before their family, their friends, 
their internal enemies. The others, regardless of 
the expense France has been put to by that fleet, 
of the tedious, tiresome voyage, which so many men 
have had for their service, though they are angry 
that the fleet takes three weeks, upon the whole cam- 
paign, to refit themselves, they cannot bear the idea 
of being brought to a small expense, to the loss of 
a little time, to the fatigue of staying some few days 
more in a camp at some few miles off their houses ; 
for I am very far from looking upon the expedition 
as having miscarried, and there I see even a certainty 
of success. 

If, as soon as the fleet is repaired, which (in 
case they are treated as one is in a country one is 
not at war with,) would be done in three weeks from 
this time, the Count d'Estaing was to come around, 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 193 

the expedition seems to offer a very good prospect 
If the enemy evacuates New York, we have the 
whole continental army, if not, we might perhaps 
have some more men, what number, however, I 
cannot pretend to judge. All that I know is, that 
I shall be very happy to see the fleet co-operating 
with General Washington himself. 

I think I shall be forced, by the board of general 
officers, to go soon to Boston. That I will do as 
soon as required, though with reluctance, for I do not 
believe that our position on this part of the island is 
without danger ; but my principle is to do everything 
which is thought good for the service. I have very 
often rode express to the fleet, to the frigates, and 
that, I assure you, with the greatest pleasure ; on 
the other hand, I may perhaps be useful to the fleet. 
Perhaps, too, it will be in the power of the count to 
do something which might satisfy them. I wish, 
my dear general, you could know as well as myself, 
how desirous the Count d'Estaing is to forward the 
public good, to help your success, and to serve the 
cause of America. 

I earnestly beg you will recommend to the seve- 
ral chief persons of Boston to do everything they 
can to put the French fleet in a situation for sailing 
soon. Give me leave to add, that I wish many 
people, by the declaration of your sentiments in that 
affair, could learn how to regulate theirs, and blush 
at the sight of your generosity. 

You will find my letter immense. I began it one 
day and finished it the next, as my time was swal- 
lowed up by those eternal councils of war. I shall 
have the pleasure of writing you from Boston. I 
am afraid the Count d'Estaing will have felt to the 
quick the behaviour of the people on this occasion. 
You cannot conceive how distressed he was to be 

VOL. i. o 

194 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

prevented from serving this country for some time. 
[ do assure you his circumstances were very critical 
and distressing. 

For my part, my sentiments are known to the 
world. My tender affection for General Washington 
is added to them; therefore I want no apologies 
for writing upon what has afflicted me both as an 
American and as a Frenchman. 

I am much obliged to you for the care you are 
so kind as to take of that poor horse of mine ; had 
he not found such a good stable as this at head- 
quarters, he would have cut a pitiful figure at the 
end of his travels, and I should have been too 
happy if there had remained so much of the horse 
as the bones, the skin, and the four shoes. 

Farewell, my dear general ; whenever I quit you, 
I meet with some disappointment and misfortune. 
I did not need it to desire seeing you as much as 
possible. With the most tender affection and high 
regard, I have the honour to be, &c. 

DEAR GENERAL, I must add to my letter, that I 
have received one from General Greene, very dif- 
ferent, from the expressions I have to complain of, 
he seems there very sensible of what I feel. 1 am 
very happy when placed in a situation to do justice 
to any one. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 195 



White Plains, September 1778. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, I have been honoured with 
your favour of the 25th ultimo by Monsieur Pont- 
gibaud, and I wish my time, which at present is 
taken up by a committee at congress, would permit 
me to go fully into the contents of it ; this, however, 
it is not in my power to do ; but in one word let 
me say, I feel everything that hurts the sensibility 
of a gentleman, and consequently, upon the present 
occasion, I feel for you and for our good and great 
allies the French. I feel myself hurt, also, at every 
illiberal and unthinking reflection which may have 
been cast upon the Count d'Estaing, or the conduct 
of the fleet under his command ; and, lastly, I feel 
for my country. Let me entreat you, therefore, my 
dear marquis, to take no exception at unmeaning 
expressions, uttered, perhaps, without consideration, 
and in the first transport of disappointed hope. 
Every body, sir, who reasons, will acknowledge the 
advantages which we have derived from the French 
fleet, and the zeal of the commander of it ; but, in a 
free and republican government, you cannot restrain 
the voice of the multitude ; every man will speak as 
he thinks, or, more properly, without thinking, and 
consequently will judge at effects without attending 
to the causes. The censures which have been 
levelled at the officers of the French fleet would, 
more than probably, have fallen in a much higher 
degree upon a fleet of our own if we had one in the 
same situation. It is the nature of man to be dis- 
pleased with everything that disappoints a favourite 


196 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

hope or flattering project ; and it is the folly of too 
many of them to condemn without investigating 

Let me beseech you, therefore, my good sir, to 
afford a healing hand to the wound that, uninten- 
tionally, has been made. America esteems your 
virtues and your services, and admires the principles 
upon which you act ; your countrymen, in our army, 
look up to you as their patron ; the count and his 
officers consider you as a man high in rank, and 
high in estimation here and also in, France ; and I, 
your friend, have no doubt but you will use your 
utmost endeavours to restore harmony, that the 
honour, the glory, and mutual interest of the two 
nations maybe promoted and cemented in the firmest 
manner. I would say more on the subject, but am 
restrained for the want of time, and therefore shall 
only add, that with every sentiment of esteem and 
regard, I am, my dear marquis, &c. 


Head Quarters, White Plains, 1st September, 1778. 

DEAR SIR, The disagreement between the army 
under your command and the fleet, has given me 
very singular uneasiness : the continent at large is 
concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept 
up, by all possible means, consistent with our honour 
and policy. First impressions, you know, are gene- 
rally longest remembered, and will serve to fix, in a 
great degree, our national character among the 
French. In our conduct towards them we should 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 197 

remember that they are people old in war, very strict 
in military etiquette, and apt to take fire, where 
others scarcely seem warmed. Permit me to re- 
commend, in the most particular manner, the culti- 
vation of harmony and good agreement, and your 
endeavours to destroy that ill-humour which may 
have got into the officers. It is of the greatest im- 
portance, also, that the soldiers and the people 
should know nothing of the misunderstanding, or, 
if it has reached them, that ways may be used to 
stop its progress and prevent its effects. 

I have received from congress the enclosed, by 
which you will perceive their opinion with regard to 
keeping secret the protest of the general officers : I 
need add nothing on this head. I have one thing, 
however, more to say : I make no doubt but you 
will do all in your power to forward the repair of the 
count's fleet, and render it fit for service, by your 
recommendations for that purpose to those who can 
be immediately instrumental. 

I am, dear Sir, &c. 



Head-quarters, White Plains, 1st September, 1778. 
DEAR SIR, I have had the pleasure of receiving 
your several letters, the last of which was of the 
22nd of August. I have not now time to take no- 
tice of the arguments that were made use of for and 
against the count's quitting the harbour of Newport 
and sailing for Boston : right or wrong, it will pro- 

198 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

bably disappoint our sanguine expectations of suc- 
cess ; and, what I esteem a still worse consequence, 
I fear it will sow the seeds of dissension and dis- 
trust between us and our new allies, unless the most 
prudent measures are taken to suppress the feuds 
and jealousies that have already arisen. I depend 
much upon your aid and influence to conciliate that 
animosity which I plainly perceive, by a letter from 
the marquis, subsists between the American officers 
and the French in our service; this, you may depend, 
will extend itself to the count, and to the officers 
and men of his whole fleet, should they return to 
Rhode Island, unless, upon their arrival there, they 
find a reconciliation has taken place. The marquis 
speaks kindly of a letter from you to him on the sub- 
ject; he will therefore take any advice coming from 
you in a friendly light ; and, if he can be pacified, 
the other French gentlemen will of course be satis- 
fied, as they look up to him as their head. The 
marquis grounds his complaint upon a general order 
of the 24th of August, the latter part of which is 
certainly very impolitic, especially considering the 
universal clamour that prevailed against the French 

I beg you will take every measure to keep the 
protest entered into by the general officers from 
being made public. The congress, sensible of the 
ill consequences that will flow from the world's 
knowing our differences, have passed a resolve to 
that purpose. Upon the whole, my dear sir, you 
can conceive my meaning better than I can express 
it ; and I therefore fully depend upon your exerting 
yourself to heal all private animosities between our 
principal officers and the French, and to prevent all 
illiberal expressions and reflections that may fall 
from the army at large. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 199 

I have this moment received a letter from General 
Sullivan of the 29th of August, in which he barely 
informs me of an action upon that day, in which h 
says we had the better, but does not mention par- 

I am, &c. 



Tyvertown, 1st September, 1778. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, That there has been an action 
fought where I could have been, and where I was 
not, is a thing which will seem as extraordinary to 
you as it seems so to myself. After a long journey 
and a longer stay from home, (I mean from head- 
quarters,) the only satisfactory day I have, finds 
me in the middle of a town. There I had been 
sent, pushed, hurried, by the board of general 
officers, and principally by Generals Sullivan and 
Greene, who thought I should be of great use to 
the common cause, and to whom I foretold the dis- 
agreeable event which would happen to me ; I felt, 
on that occasion, the impression of that bad star 
which, some days ago, has influenced the French 
undertakings, and which, I hope, will soon be re- 
moved. People say that I don't want an action ; 
but if it is not necessary to my reputation as a 
tolerable private soldier, it would at least add 
to my satisfaction and pleasure. However, I was 
happy enough to arrive before the second retreat : 
it was not attended with such trouble and danger 

200 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778 

as it would have been had not the enemy been so 
sleepy, I was thus once more deprived of my fight- 
ing expectations. 

From what I have heard from sensible and candid 
French gentlemen, the action does great honour to 
General Sullivan : he retreated in good order ; he 
opposed, very properly, every effort of the enemy ; 
he never sent troops but well supported, and dis- 
played great coolness during the whole day. The 
evacuation I have seen extremely well performed, 
and my private opinion is, that if both events are 
satisfactory to us, they are very shameful to the 
British generals and troops ; they had, indeed, so 
many fine chances to cut us to pieces ; but they 
are very good people. 

Now, my dear general, I must give you an ac- 
count of that journey for which I have paid so 
dear. The Count d'Estaing arrived the day before 
in Boston. I found him much displeased at a pro- 
test of which you have heard, and many other cir- 
cumstances which I have reported to you : I did 
what I could on the occasion ; but I must do the 
admiral the justice to say that it has not at all di- 
minished his warm desire of serving America. We 
waited together on the council, General Heath, Ge- 
neral Hancock, and were very well satisfied with 
them ; the las.t one distinguished himself very 
much by his zeal on the occasion. Some people 
in Boston were rather dissatisfied ; but when they 
saw the behaviour of the council, Generals Heath 
and Hancock, they, I hope, will do the same ; I, 
therefore, fear nothing but delays. The marts are 
very far off, provisions difficult to be provided. The 
Count d'Estaing was ready to come with his land 
forces and put himself under General Sullivan's 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 201 

orders, though dissatisfied with the latter ; but our 
new circumstances will alter that design. 

I beg you will pardon me once more, my dear 
general, for having troubled and afflicted you with 
the account of what I had seen after the departure 
of the French fleet. My confidence in you is such, 
that I could not feel so warmly upon this point with- 
out communicating it to your excellency. I have 
now the pleasure to inform you that the discontent 
does not appear so great. The French hospital is ar- 
rived at Boston, though under difficulties, which, 
however, I think I have diminished a good deal by 
sending part of my family, with orders to some 
persons, and entreaties to others, to give them all 
the assistance in their power. Now, everything 
will be right provided the Count d'Estaing is enabled 
to sail soon. Every exertion, I think, ought to be 
employed for that purpose in all the several parts 
of the continent : marts, biscuit, water, and provi- 
sions are his wants. I long to see that we have 
again the command, or at least an equal force, upon 
the American seas. 

By your letters to General Sullivan, I apprehend 
that there is some general move in the British army, 
and that your excellency is going to send us rein- 
forcements. God grant you may send us as many 
as with the militia will make a larger army, that you 
might command them yourself. I long, my dear 
general, to be again with you, and to have the plea- 
sure of co-operating with the French fleet, under 
your immediate orders, this will be the greatest I 
can feel ; I am sure everything will then be right. 
The Count d'Estaing (if Rhode Island is again to be 
taken, which I ardently wish,) would be extremely 
happy to take it in conjunction with General Wash- 
ington, and it would remove the other inconve- 

202 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

niences. I am now entrusted, by General Sullivan, 
with the care of Warren, Bristol, and the eastern 
shore. I am to defend a country with very few troops 
who are not able to defend more than a single point. 
I cannot answer that the enemy won't go and do 
what they please, for I am not able to prevent 
them, only with a part of their army, and yet this 
part must not land far from me ; but I answer, that 
if they come with equal or not very superior forces 
to those I may collect, we shall flog them pretty well ; 
at least, I hope so. My situation seems to be 
uncertain, for we expect to hear soon from your 
excellency. You know Mr. Touzard, a gentle- 
man of my family he met with a terrible acci- 
dent in the last action ; running before all the 
others, to take a piece of cannon in the midst of 
the enemy, with the greatest excess of bravery, he 
was immediately covered with their shots, had his 
horse killed, and his right arm shattered to pieces. 
He was happy enough not to fall into their hands : 
his life is not despaired of. Congress was going to 
send him a commission of major. 

Give me joy, my dear general, I intend to have 
your picture, and Mr. Hancock has promised me a 
copy of that he has in Boston. He gave one to 
Count d'Estaing, and I never saw a man so glad at 
possessing his sweetheart's picture, as the admiral 
was to receive yours. 

In expecting, with the greatest impatience, to 
hear from your excellency as to what are to be the 
general plans, and your private movements, I have 
the honour to be, with the highest respect, the 
warmest and most endless affection, dear general, &c. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 203 



Camp, near Bristol, the 7th September, 1778. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, I cannot let M. de la Neu- 
ville go to head-quarters without recalling to your 
excellency's memory an inhabitant of the eastern 
Rhode Island, those who long much to be again re- 
united to you, and conceive now great hopes, from 
Sir Henry Clinton's movement to New York, that 
you will come to oppose him in person. I think if 
we meet to oppose the enemy in this quarter, that 
more troops are absolutely necessary, for we are not 
able to do anything in our scattered situation. I 
confess I am myself very uneasy in this quarter, 
and fear that these people will put it in their heads 
to take some of our batteries, &c., which, if pro- 
perly attacked, it will be difficult to prevent. 1 am 
upon a little advance of land, where, in case of an 
alarm, a long stay might be very dangerous ; but we 
will do the best. 

I am told that the enemy is going to evacuate 
New York. My policy leads me to believe that 
some troops will be sent to Halifax, to the West 
Indies, and to Canada ; that Canada, I apprehend, 
will be your occupation next winter and spring. 
This idea, my dear general, alters a plan I had to 
make a voyage home some months hence, however, 
as long as you fight I want to fight along with you, 
and I much desire to see your excellency in Quebec 
next summer. 

With the most tender affection and highest re- 
spect, I have the honour to be, &c. 

204 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 


Bristol, near Rhode Island, September llth, 1778. 

I HAVE already endeavoured to describe to you 
some part of the pleasure your last letter gave me ; 
but I cannot write again without repeating my 
assurance of the delight I derived from its perusal. 
I have blessed, a thousand times, the vessel that 
brought that letter, and the favourable winds that 
blew it, to the American shore. The kindness and 
affection you express have sunk deeply into a heart 
which is fully sensible of all their value. Your 
partiality has far over-rated my slight merit ; but 
your approbation is so precious to me, my desire 
of obtaining it is so very strong, that I experience 
the same pleasure as if I were conscious of meriting 
your good opinion. I love you too well not to be 
enchanted and overjoyed when I receive any proof 
of your affection. You may find many persons 
more worthy of it, but I may take the liberty of 
challenging you to find one human being who either 
values it more highly, or is more desirous of obtain- 
ing it. I place full reliance on your kindness, and 
even if I were unhappy enough to fall under your 
displeasure, I hope I should not forfeit your affec- 
tion. I think I may promise that that last misfor- 
tune shall never occur through any fault of mine, 
and I wish I could feel as certain of never erring 
from my head as from my heart. The goodness of 
my friends imposes a weight of obligation upon me. 
My greatest pleasure will be to hear you say, whilst 
I embrace you, that you do not disapprove of my 
conduct, and that you retain for me that friendship 
which renders me so happy. It is impossible for 
me to describe to you the joy your letter, and the 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 205 

kind feeling which dictated it, have inspired me 
with. How delighted I shall be to thank you for 
it, and to find myself again in your society ! If 
you should ever amuse yourself by looking at the 
American campaigns, or following them on your 
maps, I shall ask permission to insert a small river 
or a mountain : this would give me an opportunity 
of describing to you the little I have seen, of con- 
fiding to you my own trifling ideas, and of endea- 
vouring so to combine them as to render them more 
military : for there is so great a difference between 
what I behold here, and those large, fine, well-or- 
ganised armies of Germany, that, in truth, when I 
recur from them to our American armies, I scarcely 
dare say that we are making war. If the French 
war should terminate before that of the rest of 
Europe, and you were disposed to see how things 
were going on, and permitted me to accompany 
you, I should feel perfectly happy ; in the mean- 
time, 1 have great pleasure in thinking that I 
shall pass some mornings with you at your own 
house, and I promise myself as much improvement 
as amusement from conversing with you, if you are 
so kind as to grant me some portion of your time. 

I received, with heartfelt gratitude, the advice 
you gave me to remain here during this campaign ; 
it was inspired by true friendship and a thorough 
knowledge of my interest: such is the species of 
advice we give to those we really love, and this idea 
has rendered it still dearer to me. I will be guided 
by it in proportion as events may follow the direc- 
tion you appear to have expected. A change of 
circumstances renders a change of conduct some- 
times necessary. I had intended, as soon as war 
was declared, to range myself under the French 

206 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

banner : I was induced to take this resolution from 
the fear that the ambition of obtaining higher rank, 
or the wish of retaining the one I actually enjoy, 
should appear to be my only motives for remaining 
here. Such unworthy sentiments have never found 
entrance into my heart. But your letter, advising 
me to remain, and assuring me there would be no 
land campaign, induced me to change my determi- 
nation, and I now rejoice that I have done so. The 
arrival of the French fleet upon this coast, has 
offered me the agreeable prospect of acting in con- 
cert with it, and of being a happy spectator of 
the glory of the French banner. Although the 
elements, until now, have declared themselves 
against us, I have not lost the sanguine hopes 
of the future, which the great talents of M. 
d'Estaing have inspired us with. You will be asto- 
nished to hear that the English still retain all their 
posts, and have contented themselves with merely 
evacuating Philadelphia. I expected, and General 
Washington also expected, to see them abandon 
everything for Canada, Halifax, and their islands ; 
but these gentlemen are apparently in no great 
haste. The fleet, it is true, may hitherto have ren- 
dered such a division of their troops rather difficult ; 
but now that it is removed to Boston, they might 
easily begin to make a move : they appear to me, 
instead of moving off, to intend fighting a little in 
this part of the country. I thought I ought to con- 
sult M. d'Estaing, and even M. Gerard on this 
subject. Both agreed that I was right to remain, 
and even said, that my presence here would not 
prove wholly useless to my own country. That I 
might have nothing to reproach myself with, I 
wrote to M. de Montbarrey a short letter, which 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 207 

apprised him of my being still in existence, and of 
the resolution I had taken not to return to France 
in the midst of this campaign. 

The kind manner in which you received the 
gazette which John Adams conveyed to you, induced 
me to send you a second, which must have made you 
acquainted with the few events that have taken 
place during this campaign. The visit that the 
English army designed to pay to a detachment 
which I commanded the 28th of May, and which 
escaped their hands owing to their own dila- 
tory movements ; the arrival of the treaty, subse- 
quently that of the commissioners, the letter they 
addressed to congress, the firm answer they received, 
the evacuation of Philadelphia, and the retreat of 
General Clinton through Jersey, are the only arti- 
cles worthy of attention. I have also described to 
you in what manner we followed the English army, 
and how General Lee, after my detachment had 
joined him, allowed himself to be beaten. The 
arrival of General Washington arrested the disorder, 
and determined the victory on our side. It is the 
battle, or rather affair, of Monmouth. General Lee 
has since been suspended for a year by a council of 
war, for his conduct on this occasion. 

I must now relate to you what has occurred since 
the arrival of the fleet, which has experienced con- 
trary winds ever since it sailed ; after a voyage of 
three months it reached the Delaware, which the 
English had then quitted ; from thence it proceeded 
to Sandyhook, the same place General Clinton 
sailed from after the check he encountered at Mon- 
mouth. Our army repaired to White Plains, that 
former battle-field of the Americans. M. d'Estaing 
blockaded New York, and we were thus neighbours 

208 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

of the English both by land and sea. Lord Howe, 
enclosed in the harbour, and separated from our 
fleet only by the Sandy-hook bar, did not accept 
the combat which the French admiral ardently de- 
sired, and offered him for several days. A noble 
project was conceived that of entering into the 
harbour ; but our ships drew too much water, and 
the English seventy-fours could not enter with 
their guns. Some pilots gave no hopes on this 
subject; but, when we examined the case more 
narrowly, all agreed as to its impossibility, and 
soundings proved the truth of the latter opinion ; we 
were therefore obliged to have recourse to other 

General Washington, wishing to make a diver- 
sion on Rhode Island, ordered General Sullivan, 
who commanded in that state, to assemble his 
troops. The fleet stationed itself in the channel 
which leads to Newport, and I was ordered to con- 
duct a detachment of the great army to General 
Sullivan, who is my senior in command. After 
many delays, which were very annoying to the 
fleet, and many circumstances, which it would be 
too long to relate, all our preparations were made, 
and we landed on the island with twelve thousand 
men, many of them militia, of whom I commanded 
one half upon the left side. M. d'Estaing had en- 
tered the channel the day before, in spite of the 
English batteries. General Pigot had enclosed 
himself in the respectable fortifications of Newport. 
The evening of our arrival, the English fleet ap- 
peared before the channel with all the vessels that 
Lord Howe had been able to collect, and a rein- 
forcement of four thousand men for the enemy, 
who had already from five to six thousand men. 

CORRESPONDENCE- -1777, 1778. 209 

A north wind blew most fortunately for us the next 
day, and the French fleet passing gallantly under 
a sharp fire from the batteries, to which they re- 
plied with broadside shot, prepared themselves to 
accept the conflict which Lord Howe was appa- 
rently proposing to them. The English admiral 
suddenly cut his cables, and fled at full sail, warmly 
pursued by all our vessels, with the admiral at their 
head. This spectacle was given during the finest 
weather possible, and within sight of the English 
and American armies. I never felt so proud as on 
that day. 

The next day, when the victory was on the point 
of being completed, and the guns of the Languedoc 
were directed towards the English fleet, at the 
most glorious moment for the French navy, a 
sudden gale, followed by a dreadful storm, sepa- 
rated and dispersed the French vessels, Howe's 
vessels, and those of Biron, which, by a singular ac- 
cident, had just arrived there. The Languedoc and 
the Marseillais were dismasted, and the Cesar was 
afterwards unheard of for some time. To find the 
English fleet was impossible. M. d'Estaing return- 
ed to Rhode Island, remained there two days, to 
ascertain whether General Sullivan wished to retire, 
and then entered the Boston harbour. During these 
various cruises, the fleet took or burnt six English 
frigates, and a large number of vessels, of which 
several were armed ; they also cleared the coast and 
opened the harbours. Their commander appeared 
to me to have been formed for great exploits ; his 
talents, which all men must acknowledge, the quali- 
ties of his heart, his love of discipline and of the 
honour of his country, and his indefatigable activity, 
excite my admiration, and make me consider him 
as a man created for great actions. 

I-VOL. 1. P 

210 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

As to ourselves, we remained some time at Rhode 
Island, and spent several days firing cannon shot at 
each other, which produced no great result on either 
side ; but General Clinton having led himself a re- 
inforcement of five thousand men, and a part of our 
militia having returned to their own homes, we 
thought of retiring ; the harbour was no longer 
blockaded, and the English were resuming their 
naval advantage. Our retreat at that period was 
preceded by a trifling skirmish, at which I was not 
present, having repaired to Boston respecting an 
affair which I dare not write for fear of accidents. I 
returned in great haste, as you may imagine, and, 
after my arrival, we completed the evacuation of the 
Island. As the English were gone out, we were 
such near neighbours, that our picquets touched 
each other ; they allowed us, however, to re-embark 
without perceiving it, and this want of activity ap- 
peared to me more fortunate, as they would have 
incommoded me exceedingly had they attacked the 

I am at present on the continent, and have the 
command of the troops stationed nearest Rhode 
Island; General Sullivan is at Providence; M. 
d'Estaing is taking in, at Providence, masts and 
provisions ; General Washington is at White Plains, 
with three brigades, stationed some miles in ad- 
vance on that side, in case of need. As to the 
English, they occupy New York and the adjacent 
Islands, and are better defended by their vessels 
than by their troops. They possess the same num- 
ber of troops at Rhode Island that they did formerly, 
and General Grey, at the head of about five thou- 
sand men, marches along the coast, with the inten- 
tion of burning the towns and ransoming the small 
Islands. It is thought, however, that the scene will 

CORRESPONDENCE 1/77, 1778. 211 

soon become more animated ; there are great move- 
ments in New York ; Lord Howe has gone out 
with all his fleet, strengthened with the greatest part 
of Biron's squadron ; M, d'Estaing has taken pos- 
session of the harbour, and has established some 
formidable batteries. On the other side, Mr. Grey 
may form and execute more serious projects ; he 
is at present in my neighbourhood, and I am obliged 
to keep myself still more on the alert, because the 
stations which I occupy extend from Seconnet 
Point, which you may see on the map, to Bristol, 
I hope all this will soon end, for we are now in a 
very tiresome state of inaction , 

I am becoming extremely prolix, but I perceive 
that I have forgotten dates, and two lines more or 
less will not add much to your fatigue. The evacu- 
ation of Philadelphia took place the 1 8th June ; the 
affair of Monmouth the 28th ; we arrived on Rhode 
Island, I think, the 10th August, and evacuated it 
the 30th of the same month ; my gazette is now 

An accident has occurred on this Island which 
has affected me deeply. Several French officers, in 
the service of America, have the kindness to pass 
much of their time with me, especially when I am 
engaged firing musket balls, M. Touzard, an ar- 
tillery officer in the regiment of La Fere, has been, 
during the last months, one of my constant asso- 
ciates. Finding a good opportunity on the Island 
of snatching a piece of cannon from the enemy, he 
threw himself in the midst of them, with the greatest 
gallantry and courage ; but his temerity drew upon 
himself a hot fire from the enemy, which killed his 
horse, and carried away his right arm. His action 
has been admired, even by the English > it would 
be indeed unfortunate if distance should prevent its 

p 2 

212 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

being known in France ; I could not refrain from 
giving an account of it to M. de Montbarrey, al- 
though I have not any right to do so ; but I am very 
anxious to be of use to this brave officer. If any 
opportunity offers of serving him, I recommend him 
earnestly to your love of noble actions. I confide 
my letters to M. d'Estaing, who will send them to 
France. If you should have the kindness to write 
to me, and any packet ships be sent out to the 
fleet, I beg you to take advantage of them. The 
admiration I feel for him who commands it, and my 
firm conviction that he will not let an opportunity 
escape of performing glorious deeds, will always 
make me desirous of being employed in unison with 
him ; and the friendship of General Washington 
gives me the assurance that I need not even make 
such a request ; I often also receive letters from M. 
d'Estaing, and he will send me yours as soon as he 
receives them. You must feel how impossible it is 
for me to ascertain when I can return to you. I 
shall be guided entirely by circumstances. My great 
object in wishing to return was the idea of a descent 
upon England. I should consider myself as almost 
dishonoured if I were not present at such a moment. 
I should feel so much regret and shame, that I 
should be tempted to drown or hang myself, accord- 
ing to the English mode. My greatest happiness 
would be to drive them from this country, and then 
to repair to England, serving under your command. 
This is a very delightful project ; God grant it may 
be realized ! It is the one which would be most 
peculiarly agreeable to me. I entreat you to send 
me your advice as soon as possible ; if I but receive 
it in time, it shall regulate my conduct. Adieu, I 
dare not begin another page ; I beg you to accept 
the assurance of my tender respect, and of all the 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 213 

sentiments that I shall ever feel for you during the 
remainder of my life. 

I shall add this soiled bit of paper, which might 
have suited Harpagon himself, to my long epistle, to 
tell you that I am become very reasonable as relates 
to expenses. Now that I have my own establish- 
ment, I shall spend still less, and I really act very 
prudently, when you consider the exorbitant price 
of every thing, principally with paper money. 

I shall write by another opportunity, perhaps a 
more speedy one, to Madame de Tesse. I entreat 
you to present her with my tender respects. If M. 
de Tesse, M. de Mun, M. de Neuilly, M. Senac,* 
retain a kind remembrance of me, deign to present 
my compliments to them. If M. de Comte le 
Broglie does not receive news from this country, as 
he has always expressed great interest in me, be so 
good as to give him an account of our proceedings 
when you see him. 

May I flatter myself that I still possess your good 
opinion ? I should not doubt it, if I could but con- 
vince you how much I value it ; I will do everything 
in my 'power to deserve it, and I should be miserable 
if you doubted for an instant how very deeply this 
feeling is engraven in my breast. If I have ever 
erred in the path I am pursuing, forgive the illu- 
sions of my head in favour of the good intentions 
and rectitude of my heart, which is filled with feel- 

* M. de Tesse, first squire to the Queen, had married 
Mademoiselle de Noailles, daughter of the Marshal, and aunt 
to Madame de Lafayette ; M. de Neuilly was attached, under the 
Marshal's orders, to the stables of the Queen ; M. de Mun, 
father to M. de Mun, peer of France, was intimate with the 
whole family ; M. Senac de Meilhan has been named comptroller 

214 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

ings of the deepest gratitude, affection, and respect 
for you ; and these it will ever retain, in all coun- 
tries, and under all circumstances, until my latest 
breath, LAFAYETTE, 


Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 13th, 1778. 
IF any thing could lessen my pleasure in writing to 
you, my dearest love, it would be the painful idea 
that I am writing to you from a corner of America, 
and that all I love is two thousand leagues from me, 
But I have reason to hope that the actual state of 
things cannot subsist for any length of time, and 
that the moment appointed for our meeting is not 
very far removed. War, which so often causes 
separation, must reunite us ; it even secures my 
return by bringing French vessels here, and the fear 
of being taken will soon completely vanish ; we 
shall be at least two to play at the game, and if the 
English attempt to interrupt my course, we shall 
be able to answer them. How delightful it would 
be for me to congratulate myself upon having heard 
from you ; but that happiness has not been granted 
me. Your last letter arrived at the same time as 
the fleet ; since that very distant day, since two 
months, I have been expecting letters, and none 
have reached me. It is true that the admiral, and 
the King's minister, have not been better treated by 
fortui]Le ; it is true that several vessels are expected, 
one in particular, every day : this gives me hope ; 
and it is upon hope, that void and meagre food, 
that I must even subsist. Do not leave me in such 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 215 

a painful state of uncertainty, and although I do 
not expect to be here to receive an answer to the 
letter I am now writing, yet I entreat you to send 
me a very long one immediately, as if I were only 
waiting for your letter to depart ; when you read 
this, therefore, call instantly for pen and ink, and 
write to me by every opportunity that you love me, 
and that you will be glad to see me again, not but 
that I am well convinced of this ; my affection does 
not permit me to make use of any compliments 
with you, and there would be more vanity in telling 
you that I doubt your love, than in assuring you 
that I depend fully upon it, and for the remainder 
of my life. But every repetition of this truth 
always gives me pleasure. The feeling itself is so 
dear to me, and is so very necessary to my happi- 
ness, that I cannot but rejoice in your sweet ex- 
pressions of it. It is not my reason (for I do not 
doubt your love) but my heart that you delight by 
repeating a thousand times what gives me more 
pleasure, if possible, each time you utter it. O, 
when shall I be with you, my love ; when shall I 
embrace you a hundred times ? 

I flattered myself that the declaration of war 
would recall me immediately to France : independ- 
ent of the ties which draw my heart towards those 
most dear to me, the love of my country, and my 
wish to serve her, are powerful motives for my re^ 
turn. I feared even that people, who did not know 
me, might imagine that ambition, a taste for the 
command I am entrusted with, and the confidence 
with which I am honoured, would induce me to 
remain here some time longer. I own that I felt 
some satisfaction in making these sacrifices to my 
country, and in quitting everything to fly to her 
assistance, without saying one word about the service 

216 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

I was giving up. This would have been a source 
of the purest gratification to me, and I had resolved 
to set out the moment the news of war arrived. 
You shall now learn what has delayed me, and I 
may venture to say you will approve of my conduct. 

The news was brought by a French fleet, who 
came to co-operate with the American troops ; new 
operations were just commencing ; it was in the 
midst of a campaign; this was not a moment to 
quit the army. I was also assured, from good 
authority, that nothing would take place this year 
in France, and that I lost, therefore, nothing by re- 
maining here. I ran the risk, on the contrary, of 
passing the whole autumn in a vessel, and with a 
strong desire to fight everywhere, to fight in truth 
nowhere. I was flattered in this country with the 
hope of undertaking some enterprise in concert with 
M. d'Estaing ; and persons like himself, charged 
with the affairs of France, told me my quitting 
America would be prejudicial, and my remaining in 
it useful, to my country. I was forced to sacrifice 
my delightful hopes, and delay the execution of my 
most agreeable projects. But at length the happy 
moment of rejoining you will arrive, and next winter 
will see me united to all I love best in the world. 

You will hear so much said about war, naval 
combats, projected expeditions, and military opera- 
tions, made and to be made, in America, that I will 
spare you the ennui of a gazette. I have, besides, 
related to you the few events that have taken place 
since the commencement of the campaign. I have 
been so fortunate as to be constantly employed, and 
I have never made an unlucky encounter with balls 
or bullets, to arrest me in my path. It is now more 
than a year since I dragged about, at Brandywine, a 
leg that had been somewhat rudely handled, but 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 21? 

since that time it has quite recovered, and my left 
leg is now almost as strong as the other one* This 
is the only scratch I have received, or ever shall 
receive, I can safely promise you, my love. I had 
a presentiment that I should be wounded at the first 
affair, and I have now a presentiment that I shall 
not be wounded again. I wrote to you after our 
success at Monmouth, and I scrawled my letter 
almost on the field of battle, and still surrounded 
with slashed faces. Since that period, the only 
events that have taken place, are the arrival and 
operations of the French fleet, joined to our enter- 
prise on Rhode Island. I have sent a full detail of 
them to your father. Half the Americans say that 
I am passionately fond of my country, and the other 
half say that since the arrival of the French ships, I 
have become mad, and that I neither eat, nor drink, 
nor sleep, but according to the winds that blow. 
Betwixt ourselves, they are a little in the right ; I 
never felt so strongly what may be called national 
pride. Conceive the joy I experienced on behold- 
ing the whole English fleet flying full sail before 
ours, in presence of the English and American 
armies, stationed upon Rhode Island. M. d'Estaing 
having unfortunately lost some masts, has been 
obliged to put into the Boston harbour. He is a 
man whose talents, genius, and great qualities of 
the heart, I admire as much as I love his virtues, 
patriotism, and agreeable manners. He has ex- 
perienced every possible difficulty ; he has not been 
able to do all he wished to do ; but he appears to 
me a man formed to advance the interests of such a 
nation as ours. Whatever may be the private feel- 
ing of friendship that unites me to him, I separate 
all partiality from the high opinion I entertain of 
our admiral. The Americans place great confidence 

218 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

in him, and the English fear him. As to the Rhode 
Island expedition, I shall content myself with saying 
that General Washington was not there, and that he 
sent me to conduct a reinforcement to the com- 
manding officer, my senior in service. We ex- 
changed, for several days, some cannon balls, which 
did no great harm on either side, and General Clin- 
ton having brought succours to his party, we evacu- 
ated the island, not without danger, but without any 
accident. We are all in a state of inaction, from 
which we shall soon awaken. 

Whilst we were on the Island, an officer, who has 
passed the winter with me, named Touzard, of the 
regiment of La Fere, seeing an opportunity of 
snatching a piece of cannon from the enemy, threw 
himself amongst them with the utmost bravery. 
This action attracted the fire of his antagonists, 
which killed his horse, and carried off part of his 
right arm, which has since been amputated. If he 
were in France, such an action, followed by such an 
accident, would have been the means of his receiv- 
ing the cross of St. Louis and a pension. I should 
feel the greatest pleasure if, through you and my 
friends, I could obtain for him any recompence. 

I entreat you to present my respectful and affec- 
tionate compliments to the Marshal de Noailles ; he 
must have received the trees I sent him. I will take 
advantage of the month of September, the most fa- 
vourable time, to send him a still larger quantity. 
Do not forget me to Madame la Marechale de 
Noailles ; embrace my sisters a thousand and a 
thousand times. If you see the Chevalier de Chas- 
tellux, present to: him my compliments and as- 
surances of affection. 

But what shall I say to you, my love ? What 
expressions can my tenderness find sufficiently strong 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 219 

for our dear Anastasia ? You will find them but in 
your own heart, and in mine, which is equally open 
to you. Cover her with kisses ; teach her to love 
me by loving you. We are so completely united, 
that it is impossible to love one without loving also 
the other. That poor little child must supply all 
we have lost ; she has two places to occupy in my 
heart, and this heavy task our misfortune has im- 
posed on her. I love her most fondly, and the 
misery of trembling for her life does not prevent 
my feeling for her the warmest affection. Adieu ; 
when shall I be permitted to see thee, to part from 
thee no more ; to make thy happiness as thou 
makest mine, and kneel before thee to implore thy 
pardon. Adieu, adieu ; we shall not be very long 


Philadelphia, 13th September, 1777. 
SIR, I am sensible of a particular degree of plea- 
sure in executing the order of congress, signified in 
their act of the 9th instant, which will be enclosed 
with this, expressing the sentiments of the repre- 
sentatives of the United States of America, of your 
high merit on the late expedition against Rhode 
Island. You will do congress justice, Sir, in re- 
ceiving the present acknowledgment as a tribute of 
the respect and gratitude of a free people. I have 
the honour to be, with very great respect and 
esteem, Sir, your obedient and most humble servant, 

HENRY LAURENS, President. 

* This letter, as well as all those that follow to that of the 
llth of January, 1779, with the exception of the letter to Lord 
Carlisle, was written originally in English. 

220 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 


Resolved : The president is charged with writing to the 
Marquis de Lafayette ; that congress conceives that the sacrifice 
he made of his personal feelings, when, for the interest of the 
United States, he repaired to Boston, at the moment when the 
opportunity of acquiring glory on the field of battle could 
present itself; his military zeal in returning to Rhode Island, 
when the greatest part of the army had quitted it, and his measures 
to secure a retreat, have a right to this present expression of the 
approbation of congress. 

September 9th, 1778. 


Camp, 23rd September, 1778. 

SIR, I have just received your favour of the 13th 
instant, acquainting me with the honour congress 
have been pleased to confer on me by their most 
gracious resolve. Whatever pride such an appro- 
bation may justly give me, I am not less affected 
by the feelings of gratefulness, and the satisfaction 
of thinking my endeavours were ever looked on as 
useful to a cause, in which my heart is so deeply 
interested. Be so good, Sir, as to present to con- 
gress my plain and hearty thanks, with a frank 
assurance of a candid attachment, the only one 
worth being offered to the representatives of a free 
people. The moment I heard of America, I loved 
her ; the moment I knew she was fighting for free- 
dom, I burnt with a desire of bleeding for her ; and 
the moment I shall be able to serve her at any time, 
or in any part of the world, will be the happiest one 
of my life. I never so much wished for occasions 
of deserving those obliging sentiments with which I 
am honoured by these states and their representa- 
tives, and that flattering confidence they have been 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 221 

pleased to put in me, has filled my heart with 
the warmest acknowledgments and eternal affec- 
tion. I am, &c., LAFAYETTE. 


Warren, 24th September, 1778. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I am to acknowledge the re- 
ception of your late favour. Your excellency's senti- 
ments were already known to me, and my heart had 
anticipated your answer. I, however, confess it gave 
me a new pleasure when I received it. My love for 
you is such, my dear general, that I should enjoy it 
better, if possible, in a private sentimental light 
than in a political one. Nothing makes me happier 
than to see a conformity of sentiments between you 
and me, upon any matter whatsoever ; and the 
opinion of your heart is so precious to me, that I 
will ever expect it to fix mine. I don't know how 
to make out a fine expression of my sentiments, 
my most respected friend ; but you know, I hope, 
my heart, and I beg you will read in it. 

Agreeably to your advices and my own feelings, I 
made every effort that I could for preventing any bad 
measures being taken on either side ; which conduct I 
also closely kept in the late affair of Boston concern- 
ing M. de St. Sauveur. I wished to have been of 
some use on both occasions, and I hope we have 
pretty well succeeded. The Count d'Estaing is en- 
tirely ours; so, at least, I apprehend by his confiden- 
tial letters to me ; and it affords me great pleasure. 
I have found by him an occasion of writing to 

222 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

France ; and you will better conceive than I may 
describe, how I have acted on the occasion. I 
thought the best way of speaking of those internal 
affairs was not to speak of them, or at least very 
indifferently, so as to give any such report which 
might arrive as groundless and insignificant. I 
daresay my scheme will have the desired effect, and 
nothing will be thought of it in France. I thought it 
would be well to let the admiral know that you do 
not lay any blame upon him, and that you enter- 
tained the sentiments any honest Frenchman might 
wish upon this matter. 

Agreeably to a very useful article of a letter to 
General Sullivan, I have removed my station from 
Bristol, and am in a safer place, behind Warren. 
The few spies I have been able to procure upon the 
island seem rather to think of an evacuation than of 
any enterprise ; but, you know, New York is the 
fountain-head. I long much, my dear general, to 
be again with you ; our separation has been long 
enough, and I am here as inactive as anywhere 
else. My wish, and that you will easily conceive, 
had been to co-operate w r ith the French fleet ; I 
don't know now what they will do. The admiral 
has written to me -upon many plans, and does 
not seem well fixed on any scheme : he burns 
with the desire of striking a blow, and is not yet 
determined how to accomplish it. He wrote me that 
he wanted to see me, but I cannot leave my post, 
lest something might happen : it has already cost 
dear enough to me. However, if you give me 
leave, I'll ask this of General Sullivan, and will do 
what I think best for both countries. 

I have heard of a pistolade between two gentle- 
men, which lasted very long without much effect ; 
it looks like our too much spoken of cannonade at 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 223 

Newport, while the siege was continued. I have 
not yet been able to find out what your excellency 
desires me to inquire into, on account of the French 
queen :* but the people of the navy are too remote 
from Versailles to have any knowledge of it, and the 
Count d'Estaing himself has not any intimacy with 
her. I'll get that intelligence from a better source, 
and more agreeable to your feelings on the matter, in 
order that you may do what you think fit to be done 
if the report is true. 

I beg, my dear general, when you write to your 
lady, that you would present my respects to her ; 
and I beg also the liberty to make here a thousand 
compliments to your family. With the highest 
respect and most tender friendship, I have the 
honour to be, dear general. 



Fredericksburg, 25th September, 1778. 
MY DEAR MARQUIS, The sentiments of affection 
and attachment, which breathe so conspicuously in 
all your letters to me, are at once pleasing and 

* Several ladies had lately come out from New York y who 
reported that a vessel had been captured and brought to that city, 
in which was contained a present from the Queen of France to 
Mrs. Washington, as " an elegant testimonial of her approbation 
of the general's conduct," and that it had been sold at auction for 
the benefit of the captors. This intelligence was so confidently 
affirmed from such a respectable source, that General Washington 
had requested the Marquis de Lafayette to make inquiry as to the 
truth of it through the medium of Madame de Lafayette. 
of Washington, vol. vi p. 74. 

224 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778, 

honourable, and afford me abundant cause to re- 
joice at the happiness of my acquaintance with you. 
Your love of liberty, the just sense you entertain of 
this valuable blessing, and your noble and disin- 
terested exertions in the cause of it, added to the 
innate goodness of your heart, conspire to render 
you dear to me ; and I think myself happy in being 
linked with you in bonds of the strictest friendship. 

The ardent zeal which you have displayed 
during the whole course of the campaign to the 
eastward, and your endeavours to cherish harmony 
among the officers of the allied powers, and to 
dispel those unfavourable impressions which had 
begun to take place in the minds of the unthinking, 
from misfortunes, which the utmost stretch of 
human foresight could not avert, deserved, and now 
receives, my particular and warmest thanks. I am 
sorry for Monsieur Touzard's loss of an arm in the 
action on Rhode Island ; and offer my thanks to 
him, through you, for his gallant behaviour on that 

Could I have conceived that my picture had been 
an object of your wishes, or in the smallest degree 
worthy of your attention, I should, while M. Peale 
was in the camp at Valley Forge, have got him to 
take the best portrait of me he could, and presented 
it to you ; but I really had not so good an opinion 
of my own worth, as to suppose that such a com- 
pliment would not have been considered as a greater 
instance of my vanity, than means of your gratifi- 
cation ; and therefore, when you requested me to 
sit to Monsieur Lanfang, I thought it was only to 
obtain the outlines and a few shades of my features, 
to have some prints struck from. 

If you have entertained thoughts, my dear mar- 
quis, of paying a visit to your court, to your lady, 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 225 

and to your friends this winter, but waver on 
account of an expedition into Canada, friendship 
induces me to tell you, that I do not conceive that 
the prospect of such an operation is so favourable 
at this time, as to cause you to change your views. 
Many circumstances and events must conspire to 
render an enterprise of this kind practicable and 
advisable. The enemy, in the first place, must 
either withdraw wholly, or in part, from their pre- 
sent posts, to leave us at liberty to detach largely 
from this army. In the next place, if considerable 
reinforcements should be thrown into that country, 
a winter's expedition would become impracticable, 
on account of the difficulties which would attend 
the march of a large body of men, with the neces- 
sary apparatus, provisions, forage, and stores, at 
that inclement season. In a word, the chances are 
so much against the undertaking, that they ought 
not to induce you to lay aside your other purpose, 
in the prosecution of which you shall have every 
aid, and carry with you every honourable testimony 
of my regard and entire approbation of your con- 
duct, that you can wish. But it is a compliment, 
which is due, so am I persuaded you would not 
wish to dispense with the form of signifying your 
desires to congress on the subject of your voyage 
and absence. 

I come now, in a more especial manner, to 
acknowledge the receipt of your obliging favour of 
the 21st, by Major Dubois, and to thank you for 
the important intelligence therein contained. 

I do most cordially congratulate you on the 
glorious defeat of the British squadron under Ad- 
miral Keppel, an event which reflects the highest 
honour on the good conduct and bravery of Mon- 

VOL. i. Q 

226 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

sieur d'Orrilliers and the officers of the fleet under 
his command ; at the same time that it is to be 
considered, I hope, as the happy presage of a fortu- 
nate and glorious war to his most Christian Majesty. 
A confirmation of the account I shall impatiently 
wait and devoutly wish for. If the Spaniards, under 
this favourable beginning, would unite their fleet to 
that of France, together they would soon humble 
the pride of haughty Britain, and no long suffer her 
to reign sovereign of the seas, and claim the privi- 
lege of giving laws to the main. 

You have my free consent to make the Count 
d'Estaing a visit, and may signify my entire appro- 
bation of it to General Sullivan, who, I am glad to 
find, has moved you out of a cul de sac. It was my 
advice to him long ago, to have no detachments in 
that situation, let particular places be ever so much 
unguarded and exposed from the want of troops. 
Immediately upon my removal from White Plains 
to this ground, the enemy threw a body of troops 
into the Jerseys ; but for what purpose, unless to 
make a grand forage, I have not been able yet to 
learn. They advanced some troops at the same 
time from their lines at Kingsbridge towards our 
old encampment at the plains, stripping the inha- 
bitants not only of their provisions and forage, but 
even the clothes on their backs, and without dis- 

The information, my dear marquis, which I 
begged the favour of you to obtain, was not, I am 
persuaded, to be had through the channel of the 
officers of the French fleet, but by application to 
your fair lady, to whom I should be happy in an 
opportunity of paying my homage in Virginia, when 
the war is ended, if she could be prevailed upon to 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 227 

quit, for a few months, the gaieties and splendour 
of a court, for the rural amusements of a humble 

I shall not fail to inform Mrs. Washington of 
your polite attention to her. The gentlemen of my 
family are sensible of the honour you do them by 
your kind inquiries, and join with me in a tender of 
best regards ; and none can offer them with more 
sincerity and affection than I do. With every sen- 
timent you can wish, I am, my dear marquis, &c. 



Camp, near Warren, 24th September, 1778. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, I am going to consult your 
excellency upon a point in which I not only want 
your leave and opinion, as the commander-in-chief, 
but also your candid advice, as the man whom I 
have the happiness to call my friend. In an address 

* In the preceding session, the English parliament had 
passed bills called conciliatory, and in the month of June, con- 
ciliatory commissioners had presented themselves to negotiate 
an arrangement. These were, Lord Carlisle, Governor George 
Johnstone, and William Eden. Dr. Adam Ferguson, professor 
of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, was secre- 
tary of the commission. They addressed a letter to Mr. Lau- 
rens which was to be communicated to congress. To that 
letter were joined private letters from Mr. Johnstone to several 
members of the assembly, whom he endeavoured to seduce by 
exciting interested hopes. The letters were given up to the 
congress, who declared " tliat it was incompatible with their own 
honour to hold any sort of correspondence or relation with the said 
George Johnstone" (See the Letters of General Washington, 
vol. v., p. 397, and vol. vi., p. 31 ; and the History of the American 
Revolution, by David Ramsay, vol. ii., chap. 16.) 


228 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

from the British commissaries to congress, the first 
after Johnstone was excluded, they speak in the 
most disrespectful terms of my nation and country. 
The whole is undersigned by them, and more par- 
ticularly by the president, Lord Carlisle. I am the 
first French officer, in rank, of the American army ; 
I am not unknown to the British, and if somebody 
must take notice of such expressions, that advan- 
tage does, I believe, belong to me. Don't you 
think, my dear general, that I should do well to 
write a letter on the subject to Lord Carlisle, wherein 
I should notice his expressions conveyed in an 
unfriendly manner ? I have mentioned something 
of this design to the Count d'Estaing, but wish 
entirely to fix my opinion by yours, which I instantly 
beg, as soon as you may find it convenient. 

As everything is perfectly quiet, and General 
Sullivan is persuaded that I may, with all safety, go 
to Boston, I am going to undertake a short journey 
towards that place. The admiral has several times 
expressed a desire of conversing with me ; he has 
also thrown out some wishes that something might 
be done towards securing Boston, but it seems he 
always refers to a conversation for further expla- 
nation. My stay will be short, as I don't like 
towns in time of war, when I may be about a camp. 
If your excellency answers me immediately, I may 
soon receive your letter. 

I want much to see you, my dear general, and 
consult you about many points, part of them are 
respecting myself. If you approve of my writing 
to Lord Carlisle, it would be a reason for coming 
near you for a short time, in case the gentleman 
is displeased with my mission. 

With the most perfect respect, confidence, and 
affection, I have the honour to be, &c. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 229 


I EXPECTED, until the present moment, my lord, 
to have only affairs to settle with your generals, 
and I hoped to see them at the head only of the 
armies which are respectively confided to us ; your 
letter to the Congress of the United States, the 
insulting phrase to my country, which you yourself 
have signed, could alone bring me into direct con> 
munication with you. I do not, my lord, deign 
to refute your assertion, but I do wish to punish it. 
It is to you, as chief of the commission, that I now 
appeal, to give me a reparation as public as has been 
the offence, and as shall be the denial which arises 
from it ; nor would that denial have been so long 
delayed if the letters had reached me sooner. As 1 
am obliged to absent myself for some days, I hope 
to find your answer on my return. M. de Gimat, 
a French officer, will make all the arrangements for 
me which may be agreeable to you ; I doubt not 
but that General Clinton, for the honour of his 
countryman, will consent to the measure I propose. 
As to myself, my lord, I shall consider all measures 
good, if, to the glory of being a Frenchman, I can 
add that of proving to one of your nation that my 
nation can never be attacked with impunity. 


* This letter was written in French. 

230 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 


Boston, 28th September, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, The news I have got from France, 
the reflections I have made by myself, and those 
which have been suggested to me by many people, 
particularly by the admiral, increases more than 
ever the desire I had of seeing again your excel- 
lency. I want to communicate to you my senti- 
ments, and take your opinion upon my present cir- 
stances I look upon this as of high moment to 
my private interests. On the other hand, I 
have some ideas, and some intelligence in refer- 
ence to public interests, which I am very desirous 
of disclosing to your excellency. I am sure, my 
dear general, that your sentiments upon my private 
concerns are such, that you will have no objection 
to my spending some hours with you.* 

The moment at which the fleet will be ready is 
not very far, and I think it of importance to have 
settled my affair with you before that time. I am 
going to write to General Sullivan on the subject, 

* In spite of the obstacles which had arrested M. de Lafayette 
at the commencement of the projected northern campaign, he 
had embraced with ardour the idea of a diversion which was to be 
operated in Canada, with the combined forces of France and 
America ; and it was partly to converse on this plan with Wash- 
ington, and later with the cabinet of Versailles, that he insisted 
upon having a conference with the general-in-chief, and returning 
to France before the winter. He was even summoned to ex- 
plain himself on this subject with a committee from the congress, 
who adopted the plan in principle, but decided that General 
Washington should be first consulted. The latter expressed his 
objections in a public letter addressed to the congress, and in a 
private letter addressed to Laurens, (14th November, 1778. ) 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 231 

and if he has no objection, I'll go immediately to 
head-quarters ; but should he make difficulties, I 
beg you will send me that leave. I intend to ride 
express, in order that I may have time enough. , You 
may think, my dear general, that I don't ask, what 
I never asked in my life a leave to quit the post I 
am sent to without strong reasons for it ; but the 
letters I have received from home make me very 
anxious to see you. 

With the most tender affection and highest re- 
spect, &c. 



Fishkill, 4th October, 1778. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, I have had the pleasure of 
receiving, by the hands of Monsieur de la Colombe, 
your favour of the 28th ultimo, accompanied by 
one of the 24th, which he overtook somewhere on 
the road. The leave requested in the former, 1 am 
as much interested to grant, as to refuse my appro- 
It was long before the final decision of congress became known. 
M. de Lafayette was still ignorant of it when he embarked for 
Europe. The 29th December, only, a letter was addressed to 
him from President John Jay, who was charged by congress to 
express to him that the difficulties of execution the want of 
men and materials, and, above all, the exhausted state of the 
finances, did not permit the accomplishment of this project ; that 
if, however, France would first enter into it, the United States 
would make every effort to second her. But France, from various 
motives, did not shew herself disposed to snatch Canada from 
the English. (Seethe Correspondence of Washington, vol. vi., 
and his Life by Marshal, vol. iii.) 

232 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

bation of the challenge proposed in the latter. The 
generous spirit of chivalry, exploded by the rest of 
the world, finds a refuge, my dear friend, in the 
sensibility of your nation only. But it is in vain to 
cherish it, unless you can find antagonists to sup- 
port it ; and, however well adapted it might have 
been to the times in which it existed, in our days, it 
is to be feared, that your opponent, sheltering him- 
self behind modern opinions, and under his present 
public character of commissioner, would turn a 
virtue of such ancient date into ridicule. Besides, 
supposing his lordship accepted your terms, expe- 
rience has proved that chance is often as much con- 
cerned in deciding these matters as bravery, and 
always more than the justice of the cause. I would 
not, therefore, have your life, by the remotest possi- 
bility, exposed, when it may be reserved for so 
many greater occasions. His excellency, the ad- 
miral, I flatter myself, will be in sentiment with 
me ; and, as soon as he can spare you, will send 
you to head-quarters, where I anticipate the plea- 
sure of seeing you. 

Having written very fully to you a few days ago, 
and put the letter under cover to General Sullivan, 
I have nothing to add at this time, but to assure 
you that, with the most perfect regard 1 am, dear 
sir, &c. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 233 



Philadelphia, 13th October, 1778. 

g IR) Whatever care I should take not to employ 
the precious time at congress in private considera- 
tions, I beg leave to lay before them my present 
circumstances, with that confidence which naturally 
springs from affection and gratitude. The senti- 
ments which bind me to my country, can never be 
more properly spoken of than in the presence of 
men who have done so much for their own. As 
long as I thought I could dispose of myself, I made 
it my pride and pleasure to fight under American 
colours, in defence of a cause, which I dare more 
particularly call ours, because I had the good fortune 
to bleed for it. Now, sir, that France is involved 
in a war, I am urged by a sense of duty, as well as 
by patriotic love, to present myself before the king, 
to know in what manner he may judge proper to 
employ my services. The most agreeable of all will 
be such as may enable me always to serve the 
common cause among those whose friendship I 
have the happiness to obtain, and whose fortune I 
have had the honour to follow in less smiling times. 
That reason, and others, which I leave to the feel- 
ings of congress, engage me to beg from them the 
liberty of going home for the next winter. 

As long as there were any hopes of an active 
campaign, I did not think of leaving the field. Now 
that I see a very peaceable and undisturbed moment, 
I take this opportunity of waiting on congress. In 
case my request is granted, I shall so manage my 
departure as to be certain before going off that the 

234 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

campaign is really over. Inclosed you will find a letter 
from his excellency General Washington, where he 
expresses his assent to my getting leave of absence. 
I dare flatter myself, that I shall be looked upon as 
a soldier on furlough, who most heartily wants to 
join again his colours, and his most esteemed and 
beloved fellow-soldiers. In case it is thought that 
I can be in any way useful to the service of Ame- 
rica, when I shall find myself among my country- 
men, and in case any exertion of mine is deemed 
serviceable, I hope, sir, I shall always be considered 
as a man who is deeply interested in the welfare of 
the United States, and who has the most perfect 
affection, regard, and confidence for representatives. 
With the highest regard, I have the honour to 
be, &c. 



Philadelphia, 24th October, 1778. 

SIR, I had the honour of presenting to congress 
your letter, soliciting leave of absence, and I am 
directed by the house to express their thanks for 
your zeal in promoting that just cause in which 
they are engaged, and for the disinterested services 
you have rendered to the United States of America. 
In testimony of the high esteem and affection in 
which you are held by the good people of these 
states, as well as in acknowledgment of your gal- 
lantry and military talents, displayed on many signal 
occasions, their representatives in congress assem- 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 235 

bled have ordered an elegant sword to be presented 
to you by the American minister at the court of 

Enclosed within the present cover will be found 
an act of congress, of the 21st instant, authorizing 
these declarations, and granting a furlough for your 
return to France, to be extended at your own plea- 
sure. I pray God to bless and protect you, Sir ; to 
conduct you in safety to the presence of your 
prince, and to the re-enjoyment of your noble 
family and friends. I have the honour to be, with 
the highest respect, and with the most sincere 
affection, Sir, your most obedient and most humble 

HENRY LAURENS, President. 

1778. In Congress, October 21st Resolved, That the Mar- 
quis de Lafayette, major-general in the service of the United 
States, have leave to go to France, and that he return at such 
time as shall be most convenient to him. 

Resolved, That the president write a letter to the Marquis de 
Lafayette, returning him the thanks of congress for that disin- 
terested zeal which led him to America, and for the services he 
has rendered to the United States by the exertion of his cou- 
rage and abilities on many signal occasions. 

Resolved, That the minister plenipotentiary of the United 
States of America at the court of Versailles be directed to cause 
an elegant sword, with proper devices, to be made, and pre- 
sented in the name of the United States to the Marquis de 

October 22nd. Resolved, That the following letter of recom- 
mendation of the Marquis de Lafayette be written to the King 
of France : 

To our great, faithful, and beloved friend and ally, Louis the 
Sixteenth, king of France and Navarre : 

The Marquis de Lafayette having obtained our leave to return 
to his native country, we could not suffer him to depart without 
testifying our deep sense of his zeal, courage, and attachment. 
We have advanced him to the rank of major-general in our 
armies, which, as well by his prudent as spirited conduct, he 

236 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

has manifestly merited. We recommend this young nobleman 
to your majesty's notice, as one whom \ve know to be wise in 
council, gallant in the field, and patient under the hardships of 
war. His devotion to his sovereign has led him in all things to 
demean himself as an American, acquiring thereby the confi- 
dence of these United States, your good and faithful friends 
arid allies, and the affection of their citizens. We pray God to 
keep your majesty in his holy protection. 

Done at Philadelphia, the 22nd day of October, 1778, by 
the congress of the United States of North America, your 
good friends and allies. 

HENRY LAURENS, President. 



Philadelphia, the 24th of October, 1778. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, You will be surprised to hear 
that I am yet in this city, and that I could never 
get out this time. My own business was imme- 
diately done, and I received from congress all pos- 
sible marks of kindness and affection ; but public 
affairs do not go on quite so fast, and I am detained 
for the expedition of projects, instructions, and 
many papers which I am to carry with me. The 
zeal for the common cause prevents my leaving 
this place before I am dismissed. However, I will 
certainly set out to-morrow afternoon at farthest. 

Congress have been pleased to grant me an un- 
determined furlough by the most polite and honour- 
able resolves, to which they have added a letter for 
the king in my behalf. I will shew the whole to 
your excellency as soon as I have the pleasure to 
see you ; and as I hope to arrive two days after 
this letter, I think it is useless to trouble you with 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 237 

I have received an answer from Lord Carlisle, 
in which he conceals himself behind his dignity, 
and, by a prudent foresight, he objects to entering 
into any explanation in any change of situation. 

There is a plan going on which I think you will 
approve. The idea was not suggested by me, and I 
acted in the affair a passive part. I will speak to 
your excellency of it more at length, and with more 
freedom, at our first interview. May I hope, my 
dear general, that you will order the enclosed letters 
to be sent immediately to Boston, as some of them 
contain orders for a frigate to put herself in readiness. 

With the highest respect and most tender affec- 
tion, I have tbe honour to be. 


SIR, I have received your letter by M. de Gimat ; 
I own it appears to me difficult to make a serious 
answer to it ; the only one that can be expected 
from me in my capacity of commissioner of the 
king, and which is one you should have foreseen, is, 
that I look upon myself, and shall always look upon 
myself, as not obliged to be responsible to any indi- 
vidual for my public conduct and mode of expres- 
sion. I am only responsible to my king and coun- 
try. In respect to the opinions or expressions 
contained in one of the public documents published 
by the authority of the commission to which I have 
the honour of belonging, unless they should be pub- 
licly retracted, you may feel certain that, whatever 
change may take place in my situation, I shall never 
be disposed to give any account of them, still less 
to disown them privately. I must recal to you that 

238 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

the insult you allude to as occurring in the corres- 
pondence between the king's commissioners and 
the congress is not of a private nature. I think, 
therefore, that all national disputes will be best 
decided when Admiral Biron and Count d'Estaing 
shall have met. 


Philadelphia, 26th October, 1778. 

SIR, I have received your excellency's obliging 
letter, enclosing the several resolutions congress 
have honoured me with, and the leave of absence 
they have been pleased to grant. Nothing can 
make me happier than the reflection that my ser- 
vices have met with their approbation ; the glorious 
testimonial of confidence and satisfaction repeatedly 
bestowed on me by the representatives of America, 
though superior to my merit, cannot exceed the 
grateful sentiments they have excited. I consider 
the noble present offered to me in the name of the 
United States as the most flattering honour ; it is 
my most fervent desire soon to employ that sword 
in their service against the common enemy of my 
country, and of their faithful and beloved allies. 

That liberty, safety, wealth, and concord may 
ever extend to the United States, is the ardent 
wish of a heart glowing with a devoted zeal and 
unbounded love, and the highest regard and 
the most sincere affection for their representa- 
tives. Be pleased, Sir, to present my thanks to 
them, and to accept, yourself, the assurance of my 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 239 

respectful attachment. I have the honour to be, 
with profound veneration, your excellency's most 
obedient servant, 



October, 1778. 

1 ought not to terminate this long despatch, 

without rendering to the wisdom and dexterity of 
the Marquis de Lafayette, in the part he has taken 
in these discussions, the justice which is due to his 
merits. He has given most salutary counsels, au- 
thorized by his friendship and experience. The 
Americans have strongly solicited his return with 
the troops which the king may send. He has re- 
plied with a due sensibility, but with an entire 
resignation to the will of the king. I cannot forbear 
saying, that the conduct, equally prudent, courage- 
ous, and amiable, of the Marquis de Lafayette, has 
made him the idol of the congress, the army, and 
the people of America. A high opinion is enter- 
tained of his military talents. You know how little 
I am inclined to adulation ; but I should be wanting 
in justice, if I did not transmit to you these testi- 
monials, which are here in the mouth of the whole 

240 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 



Philadelphia, 29th December, 1778. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, This will be accompanied by 
a letter from congress, which will inform you, that 
a certain expedition, after a full consideration of all 
circumstances, has been laid aside. I am sorry, 
however, for the delay it has occasioned you, by re- 
maining so long undecided. 

I am persuaded, my dear marquis, that there is 
no need of fresh proofs to convince you either of 
my affection for you personally, or of the high opi- 
nion I entertain of your military talents and merits. 
Yet, as you are on the point of returning to your 
native country, I cannot forbear indulging my 
friendship, by adding to the honourable testimonies 
you have received from congress, the enclosed 
letter from myself to our minister at your court. I 
have therein endeavoured to give him an idea of the 
value this country sets upon you ; and the interest 
I take in your happiness cannot but make me de- 
sire you may be equally dear to your own. Adieu, 
my dear marquis ; my best wishes will ever attend 
you. May you have a safe and agreeable passage, 
arid a happy meeting with your lady and friends. 
I am, &c. 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 241 



Philadelphia, 28th December, 1778. 
SIR, The Marquis de Lafayette, having served 
with distinction as major-general in the army of 
the United States for two campaigns, has been de- 
termined, by the prospect of an European war, to 
return to his native country. It is with pleasure 
that I embrace the opportunity of introducing to 
your personal acquaintance a gentleman, whose 
merit cannot have left him unknown to you by re- 
putation. The generous motives which first in- 
duced him to cross the Atlantic ; the tribute which 
he paid to gallantry at the Brandywine ; his success 
in Jersey, before he had recovered from his wound, 
in an affair where he commanded militia against 
British grenadiers ; the brilliant retreat, by which 
he eluded a combined manoeuvre of the British 
forces in the last campaign ; his services in the en- 
terprise against Rhode Island ; are such proofs of 
his zeal, military order, and talents, as have en- 
deared him to America, and must greatly recom- 
mend him to his prince. 

Coming with so many titles to claim your esteem, 
it were needless, for any other purpose than to in- 
dulge my own feelings, to add, that I have a very 
particular friendship for him ; and that, whatever 
services you may have it in your power to render 
him, will confer an obligation on one who has the 
honour to be with the greatest esteem, regard, 
and respect, sir, &c. 

VOL. I. R 

242 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 


Boston, 5th January, 1779. 

DEAR GENERAL, In my difficult situation, at such 
a distance from you, I am obliged to take a deter- 
mination by myself, which, I hope, will meet 
with your approbation. You remember, that in 
making full allowance for deliberations, the answer 
from congress was to reach me before the 15th of 
last month, and I have long since waited without 
even hearing from them. Nay, many gentlemen 
from Philadelphia assure me, congress believe that 
I am gone long ago. Though my affairs call me 
home, private interests would, however, induce me 
to wait for your excellency's letters, for the deci- 
sion of congress about an exchange in case I should 
be taken, and for the last determinations concerning 
the plans of the next campaign. 

But I think the importance of the despatches I 
am the bearer of; the uncertainty and improbability 
of receiving any others here ; my giving intelligence 
at Versailles may be for the advantage of both 
nations ; the inconvenience of detaining the fine 
frigate, on board which I return, and the danger of 
losing all the men, who desert very fast, are rea- 
sons so important as oblige me not to delay any 
longer. I am the more of that opinion from con- 
gress having resolved to send about this time three 
fast sailing vessels to France, and the marine com- 
mittee having promised me to give the despatches 
to such officers as I would recommend ; it is a very 
good way of forwarding their letters, and sending 
such as your excellency may be pleased to write 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 243 

me. I beg you will send copies of them by the 
several vessels. 

To hear from you, my most respected friend, will 
be the greatest happiness I can feel. The longer 
the letters you write, the more blessed with satisfac- 
tion I shall think myself. I hope you will not refuse 
me that pleasure as often as you can. I hope you 
will ever preserve that affection which I return by 
the tenderest sentiments. 

How happy, my dear general, I should be to come 
next spring, principally, as it might yet be proposed, 
I need not to say. Your first letter will let me 
know what I am to depend upon on that head, 
and, I flatter myself, the first from me will confirm 
to you that I am at liberty, and that most certainly 
I intend to come next campaign. 

My health is now in the best condition, and I 
would not remember I ever was sick, were it not for 
the marks of friendship you gave me on that occa- 
sion. My good doctor has attended me with his 
usual care and tenderness. He will see me on 
board and then return to head-quarters ; but the 
charge of your friend was intrusted to him till I was 
onboard the frigate. I have met with the most kind 
hospitality in this city, and, drinking water ex- 
cepted, the doctor has done everything he could to 
live happy ; he dances and sings at the assemblies 
most charmingly. 

The gentlemen who, I hope, will go to France, 
have orders to go to head-quarters ; and I flatter 
myself, my dear general, that you will write me by 
them. I beg you will let the bearer of this, Captain 
la Colombe, know that I recommend him to your 
excellency for the commission of major. 

Be so kind, my dear general, as to present my 
best respects to your lady and the gentlemen of 

R 2 

244 CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 

your family. I hope you will quietly enjoy the 
pleasure of being with Mrs. Washington, without 
any disturbance from the enemy, till I join you 
again ; I also hope you will approve of my sailing, 
which, Indeed, was urged by necessity, after wait- 
ing so long. 

Farewell, my most beloved general; it is not 
without emotion I bid you this last adieu, before 
so long a separation. Don't forget an absent 
friend, and believe me for ever and ever, with the 
highest respect and tenderest affection. 

On board the Alliance, 10th January, 1779. 
I open again my letter, my dear general, to let 
you know that I am not yet gone, but if the wind 
proves fair, I shall sail to-morrow. Nothing from 
Philadelphia ; nothing from head-quarters. So that 
everybody, as well as myself, is of opinion that I 
should be wrong to wait any longer. I hope I am 
right, and I hope to hear soon from you. Adieu, 
my dear, and for ever beloved friend, adieu ! 



On board the Alliance, off Boston, llth Jan., 1779 
THE sails are just going to be hoisted, my dear 
general, and I have but time to take my last 
leave of you. I may now be certain that congress 
did not intend to send anything more by me. The 
navy board and Mr. Nevil write me this very morn- 
ing from Boston, that the North River is passable ; 
that a gentleman from camp says, he did not hear 

CORRESPONDENCE 1777, 1778. 245 

of anything like an express for me. All agree 
for certain that congress think I am gone, and that 
the sooner I go the better. 

Farewell, my dear general ; I hope your French 
friend will ever he dear to you ; I hope I shall soon 
see you again, and tell you myself with what emo- 
tion I now leave the coast you inhabit, and with 
what affection and respect I am for ever, my 
dear general, your respectful and sincere friend. 


CAMPAIGNS OF 1780 & 1781. 


1779, 1780, & 1781.* 

LAFAYETTE, who quitted France as a rebel and fu- 
gitive, returned there triumphant and in favour. He 
was scarcely punished by a week's arrest for his 
disobedience to the King, and that was only after 
he had had a conversation with the first minister, 
Maurepas. Lafayette found himself the tie between 
the United States and France ; he enjoyed the con- 
fidence of both countries and both governments. 
His favour at court and in society was employed in 
serving the cause of the Americans, in destroying 
the false impressions that were endeavoured to be 
raised against them, and in obtaining for them suc- 
cours of every kind. He experienced, however, 
many difficulties ; the friends of the Austrian alli- 
ance saw, with displeasure, that that war would 

* These Memoirs are extracted from the American Biography 
of M. de Lafayette, written by himself, which we have designated 
under the name of Manuscript, No. 1. We have completed them 
by extracts of Manuscript, No. 2, which contains observations oa 
the historians of America. 


cause the refusal of the forty thousand auxiliaries 
stipulated by the treaty of Vienna ; the French mi- 
nistry already feared the too great aggrandisement 
of the United States, and decidedly refused the con- 
quest of Canada, on pretence that before a fourteenth 
state was added to those that had already declared 
themselves independent, it was necessary first to de- 
liver the thirteen from the yoke of the English. M. 
Neckar feared everything that could either increase 
the expense of the war or prolong it. Maurepas 
himself, who had been reluctantly led into it, was 
completely weary of it ; he hoped to obtain peace 
by making an attempt on England. Lafayette, 
taking advantage of this idea, had organized an ex- 
pedition, in which the celebrated Paul Jones was to 
command the marines, and of which the object was 
to transport a body of troops, bearing the American 
banner, upon the coast of England, and levy con- 
tributions to supply the Americans with the money 
that could not be drawn from the treasury of France. 
Liverpool and some other towns would have been 
justly punished for the part they had taken in the 
vexations exercised against the colonies, to whom 
they were indebted for their prosperity ; but the 
economy and timidity of the French ministers made 
this undertaking fail. Lafayette, despairing of the 
success of the Canada expedition, took a step that 
was undoubtedly a bold one, but which was quite jus- 
tified by the issue. He had been enjoined not to 
ask for French auxiliary troops for the United 
States, because the popular feeling of jealousy 
against foreigners, and especially against French- 
men, not only rendered the congress itself averse to 
this project, but made them believe it would excite 
general anxiety and discontent. Lafayette foresaw 
that before the succour could be ready, the United 

1779, 1780, 1781. 249 

States would feel its necessity, and that it might 
arrive, as did actually occur, in a decisive moment 
for the safety of the cause. He took, therefore, 
upon himself, not being able to obtain troops for 
Canada, to solicit, in the name of the congress, what 
he had been positively forbidden to ask, a succour 
of auxiliary troops sent to a port of the United 
States, and he made choice of that of Rhode Island 
which, having been evacuated by the English, 
and being in an Island suitable for defence, was 
more likely than any other to obviate all kinds of 
difficulties. He obtained the promise of six thou- 
sand men, but four thousand only were afterwards 
sent, under Count Rochambeau : however trifling 
that number might appear, Lafayette knew that, by 
employing young officers of the court, and drawing 
the attention of the French upon that little corps, 
the ministers would sooner or later be obliged to 
render it of use by obtaining a decided naval supe- 
riority upon the American coast, which was La- 
fayette's principal object, and which it was very 
difficult to obtain, owing to other plans of opera- 
tion ; in fact, that naval superiority was never 
established until 1781, and then lasted but for a few 
weeks : events have since proved how right Lafayette 
was to speak every day of its necessity. The corps 
which had been granted were not in readiness to 
sail until the beginning of the year 1 780. Lafayette 
in the meantime was employed in the staff of the 
army which was preparing for a descent on England, 
under the orders of the Marshal de Vaux. It was 
then that Dr. Franklin's grandson presented him 
officially with the sword that congress had decreed 
to him. Upon that sword were represented Mon- 
mouth, Barren Hill, Gloucester, and Rhode Island ; 


America, delivered from her chains, was offering a 
branch of laurel to a youthful warrior ; the same 
warrior was represented inflicting a mortal wound 
upon the British lion. Franklin had placed in 
another part an ingenious device for America; it 
was a crescent, with these words : Crescam utprosim; 
on the other side was the device, Cur non ? which 
the youth himself had adopted when he first set out 
for America. 

Lafayette, at the end of the campaign, renewed 
his efforts to obtain the fulfilment of the hopes which 
had been given him ; he succeeded in gaining pecu- 
niary succours, which were placed at the disposal of 
General Washington, for it was upon that general 
that reposed the whole confidence of the govern- 
ment, and the hopes of the French nation. Clothing 
for the army had been promised also, but that re- 
mained behind with the two thousand men which 
were to have completed the corps of Rochambeau ; 
and Admiral Ternay, instead of bringing, as he 
ought to have done, a stronger naval force than the 
enemy had brought, set sail for Rhode Island with 
seven vessels. This expedition was kept very 
secret ;* Lafayette had preceded it on board the 

* It was settled that that corps of six thousand men, com- 
manded by Lieutenant-General Rochambeau, was to be com- 
pletely under the orders of the American commander-in-chief, 
and was only to form a division of his army. The order of 
service was regulated in such a manner that the French were 
only to be looked upon as auxiliaries, keeping the left of the 
American troops, and the command belonging, when there was 
equality of rank and age, to the American officers. In a 
word, the advantages to be derived by the government, the 
general, and the American soldiers, were stipulated beforehand 
in such a manner as to prevent all future discussions. (Manu- 
script, No. 2.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 251 

French frigate the Hermione ; he arrived at Boston 
before the Americans and English had the least 
knowledge of that auxiliary reinforcement. 

(1780.) The arrival of Lafayette at Boston pro- 
duced the liveliest sensation, which was entirely 
owing to his own popularity, for no one yet knew 
what he had obtained for the United States. Every 
person ran to the shore ; he was received with the 
loudest acclamations, and carried in triumph to the 
house of Governor Hancock, from whence he set 
out for head- quarters. Washington learnt, with 
great emotion, of the arrival of his young friend. 
It was observed that on receiving the despatch 
which announced to him this event, his eyes filled 
with tears of joy, and those who are acquainted 
with the disposition of Washington, will consider 
this as a certain proof of a truly paternal love. La- 
fayette was welcomed with the greatest joy by the 
army ; he was beloved both by officers and soldiers, 
and felt the sincerest affection for them in return. 
After the first pleasure of their meeting was over, 
General Washington and he retired into a private 
room to talk over the present state of affairs. The 
situation of the army was a very bad one ; it was in 
want of money, and it was become almost impos- 
sible to raise recruits ; in short, some event was 
necessary to restore the energy of the different 
states, and give the army an opportunity of dis- 
playing its vigour. It was then that Lafayette 
announced to the commander-in-chief what had 
been done, and the succours which might soon be 
expected to arrive. General Washington felt the 
importance of this good news, and considered it as 
deciding the successful issue of their affairs. All 
the necessary preparations were made : the secret 
was well kept, although steps were obliged to be 


taken for the arrival of the troops, who landed 
safely at Rhode Island, and who, in spite of their 
long inaction, formed a necessary and powerful 
force to oppose to the English army. 

During the campaign of 1780, the French corps 
remained at Rhode Island. After the defeat of 
Gates, Greene went to command in Carolina; 
Arnold was placed at West Point; the principal 
army, under the immediate orders of Washington, 
had for its front guard the light infantry of La- 
fayette, to which was joined the corps of the excel- 
lent partisan, Colonel Lee. This is the proper time 
to speak of that light infantry. The American 
troops had no grenadiers ; their chasseurs, or rifle- 
men, formed a distinct regiment, under the orders of 
the colonel, since Brigadier- General Morgan, and 
had been taken, not from different corps, but from 
parts of the country on the frontiers of the savage 
tribes, and from amongst men whose mode of life, 
and skill in firing their long carabines, rendered them 
peculiarly useful in that service. But the regiments 
of the line supplied some chosen men, whose officers 
were also all picked men, and who formed a select 
band of about two thousand, under the orders of 
Lafayette. The mutual attachment of that corps 
and its head had become even a proverb in America. 
As a traveller brings from distant countries presents 
to his family and friends, he had brought from France 
the value of a large sum of money in ornaments for 
the soldiers, swords for the officers and under officers, 
and banners* for the battalions. This troop of 

* Upon one of these banners a cannon was painted, with this 
device : Ultima ratio, suppressing the word regum, which is used 
in Europe ; upon another, a crown of laurel united to a civic 
crown, with the device No other. And thus with the other 
emblems. (Note de M. de Lafayette.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. , 253 

chosen men, well exercised and disciplined, although 
badly clothed, were easily recognised by their red 
and black plumes, and had an excellent and a very 
pleasing appearance. But, except the few things 
which M. de Lafayette himself supplied, none of the 
things France had promised to send arrived: the 
money she lent proved, however, of essential service 
to the army. 

During that year, a conference took place at 
Hartford, in Connecticut, between the French gene- 
rals and General Washington, accompanied by Ge- 
neral Lafayette and General Knox ; they resolved 
to send the American Colonel Laurens, charged to 
solicit new succours, and above all, a superiority of 
force in the navy. On their return from this con- 
ference, the conspiracy of Arnold was discovered. 
General Washington would still have found that 
general in his quarters, if chance, or rather the de- 
sire of showing Lafayette the fort of West Point, 
constructed during his absence, had not induced 
him to repair thither before proceeding to Robin- 
son's house, in which General Arnold then resided.* 

* West Point, a fort on a tongue of land which advances 
upon the Hudson, and governs its whole navigation, is such an 
important position that it is called by an historian the Gibraltar 
of America. Arnold had been entrusted with its command, and 
his treachery, if it had proved successful, and been even attended 
with no other result but that of yielding up this fort to the enemy, 
would have inflicted a deadly wound upon the cause of the 
United States. He had entered, during eighteen months, into a 
secret relation with Sir Henry Clinton, who confided the whole 
charge of that affair to an aide-de-camp, Major Andre. Arnold 
failed at an appointment for the first interview with Andre the 
llth September, at Dobb's Ferry. A second one was proposed 
on board the sloop of war the Vulture, which Clinton sent for 
that purpose, on the 16th, to Teller's Point, about fifteen or 
twenty miles below West Point. General Washington, who 
was repairing, with M. de Lafayette, to the Hartford conference, 


Historians have rendered a detailed account of 
the treachery of Arnold. When, at his own request, 
the command of West Point was confided to him, 
he urged General Washington to inform him what 
means of information he possessed at new York. 
He made the same request to Lafayette, who acci- 
dentally had several upon his own account, and to 
the other officers who commanded near the enemy's 
lines. All these generals fortunately considered 
themselves bound by the promise of secrecy they 
had made, especially as several of the correspon- 
dents acted from a feeling of patriotism only. If 
Arnold had succeeded in discovering them, those 
unfortunate persons would have been ruined, and 
all means of communication cut off. 

Arnold was very near receiving the letter of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson in the presence of the 
commander-in-chief : he had turned aside, with La- 
fayette and Knox, to look at a redoubt ; Hamilton 

crossed the Hudson the 18th, and saw Arnold, who shewed him 
a letter from Colonel Robinson, on board the Vulture, which 
stated that that officer requested a rendezvous with him to con- 
verse upon some private affairs. Washington told him to refuse 
the rendezvous. Arnold then made arrangements for a private 
interview. Major Andre quitted New York, came on board 
the sloop, and from thence proceeded, with a false passport, to 
Long Clove, where he saw Arnold, the night of the 21st. They 
separated the next morning. Andre, on his return to New 
York, was taken at Tarry Town, by three of the militia, and 
conducted to the post of North Castle, commanded by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Jameson, who gave notice of this event, on the 
23d, to his superior officer, General Arnold. The latter received 
the letter on the 25th, the same day on which he expected 
General Washington on his return from Hartford. He fled 
immediately ; a few minutes after the general-in-chief arrived, 
and he received, only four hours later, the despatches which 
apprised him of the plot. (Washington's Writings, vol. vii. 
Appendix No. 7.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 255 

and Mac-Henry, lieutenant-colonels, the one aid- 
de-camp to Washington, the other to Lafayette, 
had gone on before to request Mrs. Arnold not to 
wait breakfast for them. They were still there, and 
Arnold with them, when he received the note : he 
turned pale, retired to his own room, and sent for 
his wife, who fainted. In that state he left her, 
without any one perceiving it : he did not return into 
the drawing room, but got upon his aide-de-camp's 
horse, which was ready saddled at the door, and 
desiring him to inform the general that he would 
wait for him at West Point, hurried to the bank 
of the river, got into his canoe, and was rowed 
to the Vulture. The general, when he learnt on his 
arrival that Arnold was at West Point, fancied that 
he had gone to prepare for his reception there, and 
without entering into the house, stepped into a boat 
with the two generals who accompanied him. When 
they arrived at the opposite shore, they were asto- 
nished at finding they were not expected : the 
mystery was only explained on their return, because 
the despatches of Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson had 
arrived in the interim. 

An historian has spoken of the generosity with 
which Mrs. Arnold was treated. It is, in truth, 
highly honourable to the American character that, 
during the first effervescence of indignation against 
her husband, she was able to go to Philadelphia, 
take her effects, and proceed with a flag of truce to 
New York, without meeting with the slightest in- 
sult. The same historian (Mr. Marshall) might have 
added that, the very evening of Arnold's evasion, 
the general, having received from him a very inso- 
lent letter, dated on board the Vulture, ordered one 
of his aides-de-camp to tell Mrs. Arnold, who was 
in an agony of terror, that he had done everything 


he could to seize her husband, but that, not having 
been able to do so, he felt pleasure in informing her 
that her husband was safe.* 

It is impossible to express too much respect or too 
deep regret for Major Andre. The fourteen general 
officers who had the painful task of pronouncing his 
sentence, the commander-in-chief, and the whole 
American army, were filled with sentiments of ad- 
miration and compassion for him. The conduct of 
the English in a preceding circumstance had been 
far from being similar. Captain Hale, of Connec- 
ticut, a distinguished young man, beloved by his 
family and friends, had been taken on Long Island, 
under circumstances of the same kind as those that 
occcasioned the death of Major Andre ; but, instead 
of being treated with the like respect, to which Major 
Andre himself bore testimony, Captain Hale was 
insulted to the last moment of his life. " This is a 
fine death for a soldier !" said one of the English 
officers who were surrounding the cart of execution. 
" Sir," replied Hale, lifting up his cap, " there is no 
death which would not be rendered noble in such a 

* General Arnold is the only American officer who ever 
thought of making use of his command to increase his fortune. 
The disinterestedness of those soldiers, during a period of revo- 
lution, which facilitates abuses, forms a singular contrast with 
the reproach of avidity that other governments, who have not 
shown the same moderation themselves, have thought proper to 
make against the citizens of the United States. The generals and 
American officers have almost all of them fought at their own 
expense ; the affairs of many of them have been ruined by their 
absence. Those who had professions lost the power of exercis- 
ing them. It has been proved, by accounts exacted in France 
during times of terror and proscription, that Lafayette had spent 
in the service of the American revolution, independent of his in- 
come, more than seven hundred thousand francs of his capital. 
The conduct of Washington was even more simple, and, accord- 
ing to our opinion, more praiseworthy : he would neither accept 

1779, 1780, 1781. 257 

glorious cause." He calmly replaced his cap, and 
the fatal cart moving on, he died with the most per- 
fect composure. 

During the winter, there was a revolt in the 
Pennsylvanian line. Lafayette was at Philadelphia ; 
the congress, and the executive power of the state, 
knowing his influence over the troops, induced him 
to proceed thither with General Saint Clair. They 
were received by the troops with marked respect, 
and they listened to their complaints, which were 
but too well grounded. General Wayne was in the 
midst of them, and had undertaken a negotiation in 
concert with the state of Pennsylvania. Lafayette 
had only, therefore , to repair to head quarters. The 
discontent of the Pennsylvanians was appeased by 
the measures of conciliation which had been already 
begun ; but the same kind of revolt in a Jersey 
brigade was suppressed with more vigour by the 
general-in-chief, who, setting out with some bat- 
talions of Lafayette's light infantry, brought the 
mutineers to reason, and the generals, no longer re- 
strained by the interference of the civil authority, 

the profit of emolument, nor the pride of sacrifice ; he was paid 
for all necessary expenses, and, without increasing his fortune, 
only lessened it, from the injury it unavoidably received from 
his absence. Whilst all the American officers conducted them- 
selves with the most patriotic disinterestedness, and all the 
pretensions of the army were satisfied with the compensation of 
seven years pay, we can only quote the single example of the 
traitor Arnold, who endeavoured, from circumstances the slight- 
est, to draw pecuniary advantage. Some grants of Ian s have 
been made by the southern states to Generals Greene and 
Wayne, and Colonel Washington, but only since the revolution. 
The shares of the Potomac, given also since the revolution to 
General Washington, were left by him in his will for the foun- 
dation of a colleger in a word, we may affirm, that delicacy and 
disinterestedness have been universal in the American army. 
(Note of M. de Lafayette.) 
VOL. I. S 


re-established immediately that military diseipl'ne 
which was on the point of being lost.* 

(1781.) General Arnold was at Portsmouth, in 
Virginia ; Washington formed the project of com- 
bining with the French to attack him, and take the 
garrison. Lafayette set out from the head quarters 
with twelve hundred of the light infantry ; he pre- 
tended to make an attack on Staten Island, and 
marching rapidly by Philadelphia to Head-of-Elk, 
he embarked with his men in some small boats, and 
arrived safely at Annapolis. He set out from thence 
in a canoe, with some officers, and, in spite of the 
English frigates that were stationed in the bay, he 
repaired to Williamsburg, to assemble the militia, 
whilst his detachment was still waiting for the 
escort which the French were to send him. La- 
fayette had already blockaded Portsmouth, and 
driven back the enemy's picquets, when the issue of 
the combat between Admiral Arbuthnot and M. 

* The writings of that period give an account of the revolt of 
the soldiers of Pennsylvania ; the complaints of most of them 
were well founded. When General Saint Clair, Lafayette, and 
Laurens, repairing from Philadelphia to head quarters, stopped 
at Princetown, as they had been desired to do by the council of 
state of Pennsylvania, they found a negotiation begun by General 
Wayne, and Colonels Stewart and Butler, who were all three 
much beloved by the Pennsylvanian soldiers ; committees ar- 
rived from the congress and state, to arrange the affair, not in 
a military, but in a civil manner : they remained but a few hours 
at Princetown, and the business was soon settled in the same 
manner in which it was commenced. But when the soldiers of 
the Jersey line wished to imitate the revolt of the Pennsylva- 
nians, General Washington stifled it in its birth by vigorous 
measures. But it should be added that the sufferings and dis- 
appointments of that brave and virtuous army were sufficient to 
weary the patience of any human being : the conduct of the 
continental troops, during the revolution, has been, in truth, 
most admirable. 

1779, 1780, 1781, 259 

Destouches, the commander of the French squadron, 
[eft the English complete masters of the Chesapeake. 
Lafayette could only then return to Annapolis, to 
re-conduct his detachment to the camp. He found 
himself blockaded by small English frigates, which 
were much too considerable in point of force for his 
boats ; but having placed cannon on some merchant 
ships, and embarked troops in them, he, by that 
manoeuvre, made the English frigates retreat, and 
taking advantage of a favourable wind, he reached 
with his men the Head-of-Elk, where he received 
some very important despatches from General Wash- 
ington* The enemy's plan of campaign was just at 
that time become known : Virginia was to be its 
object. General Phillips had left New York with a 
corps of troops to reinforce Arnold. The general 
wrote to Lafayette to go to the succour of Virginia. 
The task was not an easy one ; the men whom he 
commanded had engaged themselves for a short ex- 
pedition : they belonged to the northern states, 
which still retained strong prejudices as to the un- 
healthiness of the southern states ; they had neither 
shirts nor shoes. Some Baltimore merchants lent 
Lafayette, on his bill, two thousand guineas, which 
sufficed to buy some linen, The ladies of Balti- 
more, whom he met with at a ball given in his 
honour when he passed through the town, under- 
took to make the shirts themselves. The young 
men of the same city formed themselves into a 
company of volunteer dragoons. His corps were 
beginning to desert. Lafayette issued an order, 
declaring that he was setting out for a difficult and 
dangerous expedition ; that he hoped that the 
soldiers would not abandon him, but that whoever 
wished to go away might do so instantly ; and he 
sent away two soldiers who had just been punished 

s 2 


for some serious offences. From that hour all de- 
sertions ceased, and not one man would leave him : 
this feeling was so strong, that an under officer, 
who was prevented by a diseased leg from following 
the detachment, hired, at his own expense, a cart, 
rather than separate from it. This anecdote is ho- 
nourable to the American troops, and deserves to 
become publicly known. 

Lafayette had conceived that the capital of Vir- 
ginia would be the principal object of the enemy's 
attack. Richmond was filled with magazines ; its 
pillage would have proved fatal to the cause. La- 
fayette marched thither with such rapidity, that 
when General Phillips, arriving before Richmond, 
learnt that Lafayette had arrived there the night 
before, he would not believe it. Having ascertained, 
however, the truth of the report, he dared not 
attack the heights of Richmond. Lafayette had a 
convoy to send to the southern states ; he recon- 
noitred Petersburg carefully. This threatened attack 
assembled the English, and whilst the removing 
of cannon, and other preparations for an assault, 
amused them, the convoy was sent off rapidly with 
the munition and clothes which General Greene 
required. After the death of General Phillips, who 
died that same day, Arnold wrote, by a flag of truce, 
to Lafayette, who refused to receive his letter. He 
sent for the English officer, and, with many expres- 
sions of respect for the British army, told him that 
he could not consent to hold any correspondence 
with its present general. This refusal gave great 
pleasure to General Washington and the public, and 
placed Arnold in an awkward situation with his own 

Lord Cornwallis, on entering Virginia by Carolina, 
got rid of all his equipage, and did the same also 

1779, 1780, 1781. 261 

respecting the heavy baggage of the army under his 
orders. Lafayette placed himself under the same 
regimen, and, during the whole of that campaign, the 
two armies slept without any shelter, and only carried 
absolute necessaries with them. Upon that active 
and decisive conflict the issue of the war was to 
depend ; for if the English, who bore all the force 
of the campaign on that point, became masters of 
Virginia, not only the army of Lafayette, but also 
that of Greene, who drew from thence all his re- 
sources, and not only Virginia, but all the states 
south of the Chesapeake, would inevitably be lost. 
Thus the letters of the commander-in-chief, whilst 
telling Lafayette that he did not deceive himself as 
to the difficulties of the undertaking, merely re- 
quested him to prolong as much as possible the de- 
fence of the state. The result was far more suc- 
cessful than any person had dared to hope, at a 
period when all eyes and all thoughts were directed 
towards that one decisive point. 

The military scene in Virginia was soon to 
become more interesting. General Greene had 
marched to the right, to attack the posts of South 
Carolina, whilst Lord Cornwallis was in North 
Carolina. Cornwallis allowed him to depart, and, 
marching also to the right, burnt his own equipage 
and tents, to be enabled to remove more easily ; he 
then advanced rapidly towards Petersburg, and made 
Virginia the principal seat of war. General Wash- 
ington wrote to Lafayette that he could send him no 
other reinforcement than eight hundred of the mu- 
tinous Pennsylvanians, who had been formed again 
into a corps on the side of Lancaster. Lord Corn- 
wallis had obtained, and generally by the aid of 
negroes, the best horses in Virginia. His Tarleton 
front guard, mounted on race horses, stopped, like 


birds of prey, all they met with. The active corps 
of Oornwallis was composed of more than four thou- 
sand men, of which eight hundred were supplied 
with horses. The command was divided in the 
following manner : General Rochambeau remained 
at Rhode Island with his French corps ; Washington 
commanded in person the American troops before 
New York ; he summoned, some time after, the 
corps of Rochambeau to join him. That French 
lieutenant-general was under his orders the same as 
the American major-generals, for when Lafayette 
asked for the succour of troops, he took care to 
stipulate, in the most positive manner, that it was to 
be placed entirely under Washington's orders. The 
Americans were to have the right side ; the American 
officer, when rank and age were equal, was to com- 
mand the French officer. Lafayette had wished to 
give the rising republic all the advantages and all 
the consequence of the greatest and longest estab- 
lished powers, Washington had sent, the preced- 
ing year, General Greene to command in the 
southern states ; Virginia was nominally comprised 
in that command, and had not yet become the 
theatre of war, but the distance between the opera- 
tions of Carolina and those of Virginia was so great, 
and the communications were so difficult, that it 
was impossible for Greene to direct what was passing 
in Virginia. Lafayette took, therefore, the chief 
command, corresponding in a direct manner with 
General Washington, and occasionally with the con- 
gress. But he wished that Greene should retain 
his title of supremacy, and he only sent to the head 
quarters copies of General Greene's letters, who was 
his intimate friend, in the same way that both he 
and Greene had always been on the most intimate 
footing with General Washington. During the 

1779, 1780, 1781. 263 

whole of this campaign the most perfect harmony 
always subsisted between the generals, and contri- 
buted much to the success of the enterprise. 

Lafayette, after having saved the magazines of 
Richmond, hastened to have them evacuated ; he 
had taken his station at Osborn, and wrote to Ge- 
neral Washington that he would remain there, as 
long as his weakest point, which was the left, should 
not be threatened with an attack. Lord Cornwallis 
did not fail soon to perceive the weakness of that 
point, and Lafayette retreated with his little corps, 
who, including recruits and the militia, did not ex- 
ceed two thousand five hundred men. The richest 
young men of Virginia and Maryland had come to 
join him as volunteer dragoons, and from their in- 
telligence, as well as from the superiority of their 
horses, they had been of essential service to him. 
The Americans retreated in such a manner that the 
front guard of the enemy arrived on the spot just as 
they had quitted it, and, without running any risk 
themselves, they retarded as much as possible its 
progress. Wayne was advancing with the reinforce- 
ment of Pennsylvanians. Lafayette made all his 
calculations so as to be able to effect a junction with 
that corps, without being prevented from covering 
the military magazines of the southern states, which 
were at the foot of the mountains on the height of 
Fluvana. But the Pennsylvanians had delayed their 
movements, and Lafayette was thus obliged to make 
a choice. He went to rejoin his reinforcement at 
Raccoon-Ford, and hastened, by forced marches, to 
come into contact with Lord Cornwallis, who had 
had time to make one detachment at Charlottesville, 
and another at the James River Fork. The first 
had dispersed the Virginian assembly ; the second 
had done no material injury; but the principal 


blow was to be struck : Lord Corn wall is was estab- 
lished in a good position, within one march of the 
magazines, when Lafayette arrived close to him on 
a road leading towards those magazines. It was 
necessary for him to pass before the English army, 
presenting them his flank, and exposing himself to 
a certain defeat : he fortunately found out a shorter 
road which had remained for a long time undis- 
covered, which he repaired during the night ; 
and the next day, to the great surprise of the Eng- 
lish general, he was established in an impregnable 
station, between the English and the magazines, 
whose loss must have occasioned that of the whole 
southern army, of whom they were the sole resource ; 
for there was a road behind the mountains that the 
English never intercepted, and by which the wants 
of General Greene's army were supplied. Lord 
Cornwallis, when he commenced the pursuit of La- 
fayette, had written a letter, which was intercepted, 
in which he made use of this expression : The boy 
cannot escape me. He flattered himself with termi- 
nating, by that one blow, the war in the whole 
southern part of the United States, for it would 
have been easy for him afterwards to take posses- 
sion of Baltimore, and march towards Philadelphia. 
He beheld in this manner the failure of the principal 
part of his plan, and retreated towards Richmond, 
whilst Lafayette, who had been joined in his new 
station by a corps of riflemen, as well as by some 
militia, received notice beforehand to proceed for- 
ward on a certain day, and followed, step by step, 
the English general, without, however, risking an 
engagement with a force so superior to his own. 
His corps gradually increased. Lord Cornwallis 
thought proper to evacuate Richmond; Lafayette 
followed him, and ordered Colonel Butler to attack 

1779, 1780, 1781. 265 

his rear guard near Williamsburg. Some manoeuvre 
took place on that side, of which the prin- 
cipal object on Lafayette's part was, to convince 
Lord Cornwallis that his force was more consider- 
able than it was in reality. The English evacuated 
Williamsburg, and passed over James River to James 
Island. A warm action took place between the 
English army and the advance guard, whom La- 
fayette had ordered to the attack whilst they were 
crossing the river. Lord Cornwallis had stationed 
the first troops on the other side, to give the appear- 
an.ce as if the greatest number of the troops had 
already passed over the river. Although every 
person was unanimous in asserting that this was the 
case, Lafayette himself suspected the deception, and 
quitted his detachment to make observations upon 
a tongue of land, from whence he could more easily 
view the passage of the enemy. During that time, 
a piece of cannon, exposed, doubtless, intentionally, 
tempted General Wayne, a brave and very enter- 
prising officer. 

Lafayette found, on his return, the advance guard 
engaged in action with a very superior force ; he 
withdrew it, however (after a short but extremely 
warm conflict) , in good order, and without receiving 
a check. The report was spread that he had had a 
horse killed under him, but it was merely the one 
that was led by his side.* The English army pur- 

* Mr. Marshall relates the affair of Jamestown. There 
were no militia present, except the riflemen, who were placed in 
advance in the wood. They threw down successively three 
commandants of the advance post, placed there by Cornwallis, 
that what was passing behind might not be seen. This obsti- 
nacy in covering the position excited the suspicion of La- 
fayette, in spite of the unanimous opinion that a rear guard was 
alone remaining there. As soon as he saw, from the projecting 
tongue of land, that those who had crossed over were placed in 


sued its route to Portsmouth ; it then returned by 
water to take its station at Yorktown and Glouces- 
ter, upon the York River. A garrison still remained 
at Portsmouth. Lafayette made some demonstra- 
tions of attack, and that garrison united itself to 
the body of the army at Yorktown. 

Lafayette was extremely desirous that the English 
army should unite at that very spot. Such had 
been the aim of all his movements, ever since a 
slight increase of force had permitted him to think 
of any other thing than of retiring without being 
destroyed and of saving the magazines. He knew 
that a French fleet was to arrive from the islands 
upon the American coast. His principal object had 
been to force Lord Cornwallis to withdraw towards 
the sea-shore, and then entangle him in such a 
manner in the rivers, that there should remain no 
possibility of a retreat. The English, on the contrary, 
fancied themselves in a very good position, as they 
were possessors of a sea-port by which they could 
receive succours from New York, and communicate 
with the different parts of the coast. An accidental, 
but a very fortunate circumstance, increased their 
security. Whilst Lafayette, full of hope, was writ- 
ing to General Washington that he foresaw he could 
push Lord Cornwallis into a situation in which it 

such a manner as to appear numerous, he returned with all 
possible haste ; but General Wayne had yielded to the tempta- 
tion. He fortunately perceived his error, and being a good 
and brave officer, came forward with much gallantry ; fortu- 
nately, also, Lafayette had only placed the Pennsylvanians in 
advance, and had left the light infantry in a situation to offer 
them some assistance. The first half of his continental troops 
retired upon the other half, and the whole were placed in such a 
manner that Lord Cornwallis feared an ambuscade, and the 
more so, observes Mr. Marshall, as he had always been deceived 
as to the real force of Lafayette's army (Manuscript, No. 2.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 267 

would be easy for him, with some assistance from 
the navy, to cut off his retreat, the general, who 
had always thought that Lafayette would be very 
fortunate if he could save Virginia without being 
cut up himself, spoke to him of his project of 
attack against New York, granting him permission 
to come and take part in it, if he wished it, but re- 
presenting how useful it was to the Virginian army 
that he should remain at its head. The two letters 
passed each other; the one written by Lafayette 
arrived safely, and Washington prepared beforehand 
to take advantage of the situation of Lord Cornwallis. 
Gen. Washington's letter was intercepted, and the 
English, upon seeing that confidential communica- 
tion, never doubted for amomentbut the real intention 
of the Americans was to attack New York : their 
own security at Yorktown was therefore complete.* 
The Count de Grasse, however, arrived with a 
naval force, and three thousand troops f for the 

* James Moody rendered an ill service to those who em- 
ployed him, by seizing the letter-bag in the Jerseys. Among 
the letters, those in which General Washington informed La- 
fayette of the project respecting New York, contained friendly 
and confidential communications, written in the General's own 
hand, which could not leave the slightest doubt in any person's 
mind : they may be found in the publications of the Generals 
Clinton and Cornwallis, which contain also Lafayette's inter- 
cepted letters. But the enemy did not take those in which 
General Lafayette gave an account to General Washington of 
his manoeuvres, of his hopes, and of all that determined the corn- 
man der-in -chief to adopt the project on Virginia, nor Wash- 
ington's answers to that effect; so that when the combined 
troops made their first march towards the south, General Clin- 
ton still remained deceived, owing to the singular chance of the 
capture of the letter-bag by Moody. (Manuscript, No. 2.) 

f The entreaties of Count de Rochambeau contributed much 
towards persuading the Count de Grasse to bring his whole fleet, 
to land there the three thousand two hundred men, who joined, on 


land service. He was met at the landing place of 
Cape Henry by Colonel Gimat, a Frenchman by 
birth, commander of the American battalion, who 
was charged with despatches from Lafayette; which 
explained fully to the admiral his own military po- 
sition, and that of the enemy, and conjured him to 
sail immediately into the Chesapeake ; to drive the 
frigates into the James River, that the passage 
might be kept clear ; to blockade the* York River ; 
to send two vessels above the position of Lord Corn- 
wallis, before the batteries on the water-side, at 
Yorktown and Gloucester could be put in a proper 
state. The Count de Grasse adhered to these pro- 
posals, with the exception of not forcing the bat- 
teries with two vessels, which manoeuvre would 
have made the blockade of Cornwallis by the land 
troops still more easy of achievement. The Marquis 
de St. Simon landed with three thousand men at 
James Island. Lafayette assembled a small corps 
in the county of Gloucester, led, himself, the Ameri- 
can forces on Williamsburg, where he was met 
by the corps of the Marquis de St. Simon, who 
came to range themselves under his orders, so that 
Lord Cornwallis found himself suddenly, as if by 
enchantment, blockaded both by sea and land. The 
combined army, under the orders of Lafayette, was 
placed in an excellent situation at Williamsburg. 
It was impossible to arrive there except by two dif- 

their arrival, the army of Lafayette, and to repair immediately to 
Cape Henry, in Virginia. This is one more obligation which the 
common cause of the allies owes to General Rochambeau, who, 
from his talents, experience, moderation, and his subordination 
to the general-in-chief, respect for the civil power, and mainte- 
nance of discipline, proved that the King of France had made 
an excellent choice for the command of the auxiliary corps sent 
to the United States. (Note of M. de Lafayette.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 269 

ficult and well-defended passages. Lord Cornwallis 
presented himself before them in the hope of es- 
caping, by making a forcible attack ; but having 
ascertained the impossibility of forcing them, he 
only occupied himself with finishing speedily the 
fortifications of Yorktown ; his hopes, however, de- 
clined, when the Count de Grasse, having only left 
the ships necessary for the blockade, and having 
gone out of the harbour to attack Admiral Graves, 
forced the English to retire-, and returned to his 
former station in the bay. The French admiral 
was, however, impatient to return to the islands ; 
he wished that Yorktown should be taken by force of 
arms. The Marquis de St. Simon was of the same 
opinion : they both represented strongly to Lafayette 
that it was just, after such a long, fatiguing, and 
fortunate campaign, that the glory of making 
Cornwallis lay down his arms should belong to 
him who had reduced him to that situation. The 
admiral offered to send to the attack not only the 
garrisons from the ships, but all the sailors he 
should ask for. Lafayette was deaf to this pro- 
posal, and answered, that General Washington and 
the corps of General Rochambeau would soon 
arrive, and that it was far better to hasten their 
movements than act without them ; and, by making 
a murderous attack, shed a great deal of blood from 
a feeling of vanity and a selfish love of glory $ that 
they were certain, after the arrival of the succours, 
of taking the hostile army by a regular attack, and 
thus spare the lives of the soldiers ; which a good 
general ought always to respect as much as pos- 
sible, especially in a country where it was so diffi- 
cult to obtain others to replace those who fell. 
General Washington and Count Rochambeau were 
the first to arrive : they were soon followed by their 


troops ; but, at the same moment, the Admiral de 
Grasse wrote word that he was obliged to return to 
the islands. The whole expedition seemed on the 
point of failing, and General Washington begged 
Lafayette to go on board the admiral's ship in the 
bay, and endeavour to persuade him to change his 
mind : he succeeded, and the siege of Yorktown 
was begun. The Count de Rochambeau commanded 
the French, including the corps of St Simon ; 
the Americans were divided in two parts ; one, 
under Major-general Lincoln, who had come from 
the north with some troops ; the other, under Ge- 
neral Lafayette, who had been joined by two more 
battalions of light infantry, under the orders of 
Colonel Hamilton. It became necessary to attack 
two redoubts. One of these attacks was confided 
to the Baron de Viomenil, the other to General 
Lafayette. The former had expressed, in a some- 
what boasting manner, the idea he had of the supe- 
riority of the French in an attack of that kind: 
Lafayette, a little offended, answered, " We are but 
young soldiers, and we have but one sort of tactic 
on such occasions, which is, to discharge our mus- 
kets, and push on straight with our bayonets." He 
led on the American troops, of whom he gave the 
command to Colonel Hamilton, with the Colonels 
Laurens and Gimat under him. The American 
troops took the redoubt with the bayonet. As the 
firing was still continued on the French side, 
Lafayette sent an aide-de-camp to the Baron de 
Viomenil, to ask whether he did not require some 
succour from the Americans ;* but the French were 

* The French were much struck on this occasion by the 
extreme coolness of one of the officers whom Lafayette sent to 
the Baron de Viomenil, from a secret feeling of pleasure, per- 
haps, in marking how much the present comparison stood in 

1779, 1780, 1781. 271 

not long in taking possession also of the other re- 
doubt, and that success decided soon after the capi- 
tulation of Lord Cornwallis, (19th October, 1781.) 
Nor must the mention of an action be omitted here 
which was honourable to the humanity of the Ame- 
ricans. The English had disgraced themselves 
several times, and again recently at New London, 
by the murder of some imprisoned garrisons. The 
detachment of Colonel Hamilton did not for an in- 
stant make an ill use of their victory ; as soon as 
the enemy deposed their arms, they no longer re- 
ceived the slightest injury. Colonel Hamilton dis- 
tinguished himself very much in that attack.* 

favour of the American troops. However this might be, Major 
Barber received a contusion in his side, but would not allow his 
wound to be dressed until he had executed his commission. 
(Manuscript, No. 2.) 

* The humanity of the American soldiers in that assault has 
been attested by all historians. The following letter must be 
quoted : 


New York, August 10, 1802. 

SIR, Finding that a story, long since propagated, under cir- 
cumstances which it was expected would soon consign it to 
oblivion, (and by which I have been complimented at the ex- 
pense of Generals Washington and Lafayette,) has of late been 
revived, and has acquired a degree of importance by being re- 
peated in different publications, as well in Europe as America, 
it becomes a duty to counteract its currency and influence by 
an explicit disavowal. 

The story imports, in substance, that General Lafayette, with 
the approbation or connivance of General Washington, ordered 
me, as the officer who was to command the attack on a British 
redoubt, in the course of the siege of Yorktown, to put to death 
all those of the enemy wno should happen to be taken in the 
redoubt, and that, through motives of humanity, I forbore to 
execute the order. 

Positively, and unequivocally, I declare, that no such of 


Lord Cornwallis had demanded, in the capitula- 
tion, the permission of marching out with drums 
beating and colours flying; the Count de Rocham- 
beau and the French officers were of opinion that 
this request ought to be granted; the American 
generals did not oppose this idea ; Lafayette, recol* 
lecting that the same enemy had required General 
Lincoln, at the capitulation of Charlestown, to furl 
the American colours and not to play an English 
march, insisted strongly on using the same measures 
with them in retaliation, and obtained that these 
two precise conditions should be inserted in the 
capitulation. Lord Cornwallis did not himself file out 
with the detachment. The Generals, Washington, 
Rochambeau, and Lafayette, sent to present him their 
compliments by their aides-de-camp. He retained 
Lafayette's aide-de-camp, young George Washington, 

similar order, was ever by me received, or understood to have 
been given, nor any intimation or hint resembling it. 

It is needless to enter into an explanation of some occur- 
rences on the occasion alluded to, which may be conjectured to 
have given rise to the calumny. It is enough to say, that they 
were entirely disconnected with any act of either of the generals 
who have been accused. 

With esteem, I am, sir, your most obedient servant, 


The circumstance alluded to in this letter has been related 
in the Life of Hamilton, published by his son. A short time 
before the taking of Yorktown, a Colonel Scammell, surprised 
by the English whilst reconnoitring, had been taken prisoner 
and dangerously wounded. When the redoubt was taken, and 
Colonel Campbell, who commanded, advanced to give him- 
self up, a captain, who had served under Scammell, seized a 
bayonet, and was on the point of striking him; Hamilton 
turned aside the blow, and Campbell exclaimed, " I place myself 
under your protection," and was made prisoner by Laurens. 
(The Life of A. Hamilton, vol. i., chap. 14.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 273 

and told him that having made this long campaign 
against General Lafayette, he wished, from the 
value he annexed to that general's esteem, to give 
him a private account of the motives which had 
obliged him to surrender. He told him several 
things which have since been found in his discus- 
sion with General Clinton. Lafayette went the 
next day to see him. " I know," said Lord Corn- 
wallis, "your humanity towards prisoners, and I 
recommend my poor army to you." This recom- 
mendation was made in a tone which implied that 
in Lafayette alone he felt real confidence, and 
placed but little in the Americans. Lafayette 
therefore replied, " You know, my lord, that the 
Americans have always been humane towards 
imprisoned armies ;" in allusion to the taking of 
General Burgoyne at Saratoga.* The English 
army was in fact treated with every possible mark 
of attention. 

Although the French troops held in every respect 
the place of auxiliary troops, yet the Americans 
always yielded them every preference in their power 
relating to food or any other comfort. It is a sin- 
gular circumstance that when the troops of the 

* Lord Cornwallis affected being indisposed, in order that he 
might not march out at the head of his troops : they passed 
between two rows of the American and French army, commanded 
by General O'Hara, and surrendered their arms at the order of 
General Lincoln. Each of the generals, Washington, Rocham- 
beau, and Lafayette, sent an aide-de-camp to offer their compli- 
ments to Lord Cornwallis. He retained Lafayette's aide-de-camp, 
Major Washington, the nephew of General Washington, to tell him 
how anxious he was that the general against whom he had made 
this campaign should be convinced that he only surrendered 
from the impossibility of defending himself any longer. The 
American, French, and English generals visited each other, 
and everything passed with every possible mark of attention, 
VOL. I. T 


Marquis de St. Simon joined those of Lafayette, 
the young general, although a Frenchman, took 
upon himself to order that no flour should be de- 
livered to the American troops until the French had 
received their full provision for three days. The 
Americans had therefore seldom any thing but the 
flour of Indian corn. He gave the horses of the 
gentlemen of that country to the French hussars, 
and the superior officers themselves were obliged 
to give up theirs : yet not one murmur escaped as 
to that preference, which the Americans felt ought 
to be shewn to foreigners who came from su'ch a 
distance to fight in their cause.* 

The news of the capture of Yorktown was 
carried to France by a French frigate, who made 
the voyage in eighteen days. The English were 
thrown into consternation at that news, which occa- 
sioned the downfall of the ministry of Lord North. 
It was felt in London, as in the rest of all Europe, 
that the decisive check the English had received, 
had completely settled the final issue of the con- 
flict, and from that period nothing was thought of 
but to acknowledge the independence of the United 
States on favourable terms for Great Britain. 

especially towards Lord Cornwallis, one of the moat estimable 
men of England, who was considered their best general. 
O'Hara having said one day, at table, to the French generals, 
affecting not to wish to be overheard by Lafayette, that he 
considered it as fortunate not to have been taken by the Ame- 
ricans alone, "General O'Hara, probably," replied Lafayette, 
"does not like repetitions." He had, in fact, been taken with 
Burgoyne, and has since been taken for the third time at Tou- 
lon. (Manuscript, No. 2.) 

* See at the end of the volume a precise account of this 
whole campaign in Virginia, edited by M. de Lafayette (Part, 
No. 1.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 275 

Generals Washington and Lafayette wished to take 
advantage of the superiority of the Count de Grasse 
in order to attack Charlestown, and the English who 
remained in the southern states. Lafayette was to 
take his light infantry, as well as the corps of St. 
Simon, and land on the Charlestown side, to co- 
operate with General Greene, who still commanded 
in Carolina. It is evident that this project would 
have been successful. It has since become known 
that Lord Cornwallis, when he saw Lafayette enter 
into a canoe to go on board the fleet of the Count 
de Grasse, said to some English officers, " He is 
going to decide the loss of Charlestown." But the 
admiral refused obstinately to make any operation 
upon the coast of North America.* 

General Lafayette afterwards repaired to con- 
gress. To him, who was then but four-and-twenty, 
the happy issue of that campaign was as flattering a 

* General Lafayette was to have taken two thousand Ame- 
ricans and St. Simon's corps, who, landing near Charlestown, 
on the sea side, and co-operating with the troops of General 
Greene, would have secured the capture of the capital of Caro- 
lina, and of all the English who were remaining south of New 
York. Lowering their demands, they then requested that 
Lafayette should take the five thousand men who were at Wil- 
mington, and who were so much struck by the dangers they had 
encountered, that they did not retain that post. At length, they 
contented themselves with asking the admiral to conduct 
General Wayne and his detachment, which were sent to reinforce 
Greene's army. He would not do so. It has also since become 
known, that when Lafayette, returning from his last visit to the 
admiral, landed at Yorktown, Lord Cornwallis, who was still 
there, said to his officers, u I lay a bet that he has been making 
arrangements for our ruin at Charlestown." The English 
acknowledged that the expedition could not fail ; but the Count 
de Grasse did not think he ought to lose more time upon the 
North American coast, before returning to th*j defence of the 
West Indies. (Manuscript, No. 2.) 



success as it had been decisive to the American 
cause. He received the instructions of congress, 
in relation to the affairs of the United States in 
Europe ; and embarked at Boston in the frigate the 
Alliance. He reached France in twenty-three days. 
The reception he met with, and the credit he en- 
joyed both at court and in society were constantly 
and usefully employed in the service of the cause he 
had embraced. 




Paris, 24th February, 1779. 

SIR, A desire to render an exact obedience to the 
orders of the king, impels me to take the liberty of 
importuning you to let me know what is my duty. 
The prohibition which the Marshal de Noailles has 
put upon me, makes no exception as to one, whom 
I do not think, nevertheless, I should be forbidden 
to visit. Dr. Franklin was to have met me at Ver- 
sailles this morning, if I had been there, to commu- 
nicate to me some affairs of importance, as he said. 
I have informed him of the cause that detained me 
at Paris ; but I did not think I ought to refuse an 
interview, which might not be wholly useless to the 
king's interests. He is coming to-morrow morning, 
and I trust you will add to your kindnesses that of 
directing me how to conduct myself in this matter. 

Suffer me, sir, to inform you that I have heard 

* During this period of three years, we do not find, as in 
the preceding years, a great number of family letters and those 
of friendship. We have inserted all those we have been able to 
discover. In amends, more than two hundred political, diplo- 
matic, or military letters, are in our hands. We do not publish 
a third of them, although there are few that would not be interest- 
ing to the historian of the American revolution. We again re- 
peat, that all the letters to Americans, or from Americans, were 
written originally in English. 


many persons speak of an expedition, somewhat 
resembling the one proposed by congress. I flatter 
myself I am too well known by you to have it sus- 
pected of me, that any tie of kindred or friendship 
could make me forget the profound secrecy which 
is due to affairs of state. I have added to nature 
some acquired skill in this particular. My sole 
reason for mentioning the subject, therefore, is to 
add, that the indiscretion of some of the members 
of congress, and the number of officers returning from 
America, will always spread rumours, which it will 
be impossible to suppress. Truth cannot remain 
hidden but by being buried in a mass of false reports. 
Hence, caution is necessary in order to preserve our 
secrets from all the inconveniences to which they 
are subject in America, both from the form of the 
government and from the character of some of 
those at the head of affairs. I have the honour to 
be, with profound respect, &c. 



Camp, at Middlebrook, 8th March, 1779. 
MY DEAR MARQUIS, I am mortified exceedingly, 
that my letter from Philadelphia, with the several 
enclosures, did not reach Boston before your de- 
parture from that port. It was written as soon as 
congress had come to a decision upon the several 
matters, which became the subject of the president's 
letter to you, and was committed for conveyance to 

* We believe this letter never reached M. de Lafayette. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 279 

the messenger, who was charged with his despatches 
to that place. 

Monsieur la Colombe did me the honour of deli- 
vering to me your favours, and will probably be the 
bearer of my thanks for the affectionate manner in 
which you have expressed 'your sentiments in your 
last adieu, than which nothing can be more flattering 
and pleasing ; nor is there anything more wished for 
by me, than opportunities of giving substantial proofs 
of the sincerity of my attachment and affection. 

Nothing of importance has happened since you 
left us, except the enemy's invasion at Georgia, and 
possession of its capital ; which, though it may add 
something to their supplies, on the score of pro- 
visions, will contribute very little to the brilliancy 
of their arms, for, like the defenceless island of St. 
Lucia, it only required the appearance of force to 
effect the conquest of it, as the whole militia of the 
state did not exceed twelve hundred men, and many 
of them disaffected. General Lincoln is assembling 
a force to dispossess them, and my only fear is, that 
he will precipitate the attempt before he is fully 
prepared for the execution. In New York and at 
Rhode Island, the enemy continued quiet till the 
25th ultimo, when an attempt was made by them to 
surprise the post at Elizabethtown ; but failing 
therein, and finding themselves closely pressed, 
and in danger from detachments advancing towards 
them from this army, they retreated precipitately 
through a marsh, waist-deep in mud, after aban- 
doning all their plunder ; but not before they had, 
according to their wonted custom, set fire to two or 
three houses. The regiment of Anspach, and some 
other troops, are brought from Rhode Island to 
New York. 


We are happy in the repeated assurances and 
proofs of the friendship of our great and good ally, 
whom we hope and trust, ere this, may be congra- 
tulated on the birth of a prince, and on the joy 
which the nation must derive from an instance of 
royal felicity. We also flatter ourselves, that before 
this period the kings of Spain and the two Sicilies 
may be greeted as allies of the United States ; and 
we are not a little pleased to find, from good 
authority, that the solicitations and offers of the 
Court of Great Britain to the Empress of Russia 
have been rejected ; nor are we to be displeased, 
that overtures from the city of Amsterdam, for 
entering into a commercial connexion with us, have 
been made in such open and pointed terms. Such 
favourable sentiments, in so many powerful princes 
and states, cannot but be considered in a very 
honourable, interesting, and pleasing point of view, 
by all those who have struggled with difficulties and 
misfortunes to maintain the rights, and secure the 
liberties, of their country. But, notwithstanding 
these flattering appearances, the British king and 
his ministers continue to threaten us with war and 
desolation. A few months, however, must decide 
whether these or peace is to take place. For both 
we will prepare ; and, should the former be con- 
tinued, I shall not despair of sharing fresh toils and 
dangers with you in America ; but if the latter suc- 
ceeds, I can entertain little hopes, that the rural 
amusements of an infant world, or the contracted 
stage of an American theatre, can withdraw your 
attention and services from the gaieties of a court, 
and the active part you will more than probably be 
called upon to share in the administration of your 
government. The soldier will then be transformed 

1779, 1780, 1781. 281 

into the statesman, and your employment in this 
new walk of life will afford you no time to revisit 
this continent, or think of friends who lament your 

The American troops are again in huts ; but in a 
more agreeable and fertile country, than they, were 
in last winter at Valley Forge ; and they are better 
clad and more healthy, than they have ever been 
since the formation of the army. Mrs. Washington 
is now with me, and makes a cordial tender of her 
regards to you ; and if those of strangers can be 
offered with propriety, and will be acceptable, we 
respectively wish to have them conveyed to your 
amiable lady. We hope and trust, that your passage 
has been short, agreeable, and safe, and that you are 
as happy as the smiles of a gracious Prince, beloved 
wife, warm friends, and high expectations, can make 
you. I have now complied with your request in 
writing you a long letter, and I shall only add, that, 
with the purest sentiments of attachment, and the 
warmest friendship and regard, I am, my dear Mar- 
quis, your most affectionate and obliged, &c. 

_P.S. Harrison and Meade are in Virginia. All 
the other officers of my staff unite most cordially 
in offering you their sincere compliments. 

10th March, 1779. I have this moment received 
the letters which were in the hands of Major Nevill, 
accompanying yours of the 7th and 1 1th of January. 
The Major himself has not yet arrived at head 
quarters, being, as I am told, very sick. I must 
again thank you, my dear friend, for the numerous 
sentiments of affection which breathe so conspi- 
cuously in your last farewell, and to assure you that 
I shall always retain a warm and grateful remem- 
brance of it. Major Nevill shall have my con- 
sent to repair to France, if his health permits it, 


and if the sanction of congress can be obtained, to 
whom all applications of officers for leave to go 01 1 
of the United States are referred. 


Paris, April 1st, 1779. 

SIR, From what M. de Sartine said to me, 1 
requested M. de Chaumont yesterday to send for 
Captain Jones, and although the place of his present 
residence be unknown, our messenger will do all 
that can be done to bring him immediately to us. 
I gave him an urgent letter for Jones, and as Dr. 
Franklin was not at home, I left one also for him, 
in which I expressed our desire to see the captain, 
rather as if to consult him, than as if we had formed 
any definite project. The time I passed with M. 
de Chaumont enabled me to discover what I shall 
now have the honour of relating to you.* 

* In the previous recital a few words have been said re- 
lating to this armament. Two frigates, bearing the American 
colours, were to have been placed under the orders of Paul 
Jones, and M. de Lafayette was to command the small army 
intended to descend unexpectedly upon the western coast of 
England, and to ransack Bristol, Liverpool, and other commer- 
cial towns, for the advantage of the American finances. But this 
expedition was soon considered below the position in which M. 
de Lafayette was placed, and was abandoned for the plan of a 
descent on England, which was to be executed by the combined 
forces of France and Spain. The slowness of the latter power 
occasioned, at a later period, the failure of the project ; and 
the only result it produced was Paul Jones's expedition, and the 
conflict between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis. See 
farther on the first letters to congress and to Washington. 
In a collection of Franklin's private letters, there is also 
found a letter relating to this affair, and the note written by 
M. de Lafayette to Paul Jones when the expedition was aban- 

1779, 1780, 1781. 

The armament of the Bonhomme Richard (the 
vessel of fifty guns) goes on as slowly as possible. 
The refusal to supply what is wanted, especially 
guns, from the king's magazines, will retard the 
expedition for a whole month, because it will be the 
same for all the other ships. The only way to ob- 
viate this delay, would be to charge one man with 
the whole armament, and to send him to the ports 
with orders to get all that was necessary. 

I have discovered that Jones had a little plan for 
an enterprise formed under the direction of M. 
Gamier, and in which M. de Chaumont has taken 
part. The manner in which M. de Sartine brought 
him to us, was by making M. de Chaumont a half 
confidant, (the most dangerous of all things, because 
it gives information without binding to secrecy,) and 
I think it would be now better to communicate the 
secret of the armament without betraying that of 
the expedition, and desire him to employ all his 
activity in completing it. The other person need 
not, in that case, take any part in it, and according 
to the orders received from M. de Sartine, it ap- 
peared to me, from what M. de Chaumont said, 
that the Bonhomme Richard, and other vessels, 
if required, might be in readiness before the expira- 
tion of three weeks. 

I intend to have the honour of paying my respects 
to you after dinner on Saturday. If you approve of 
my idea, M. de Chaumont, or any other person 
you may prefer, might be summoned at the same 
time ; for by the ordinary method this business will 
never be achieved. I hope that, in consequence 
of my aversion to delays in military affairs, you, will 

doned. (A Collection of the Familiar Letters and Miscellaneous 
Papers of B. Franklin, Boston, 1833. Washington's writings, Vol. 
vi., Appendix viii.) 


pardon the importunity which my confidence in 
you has inspired, in favour of a project of which 
you feel the importance. 

I have the honour to be, with the most sincere 
respect and affection, &c. 

Permit me to confide to you, also, under the same 
secrecy, my fears that orders have not yet been sent 
to all the ports. 


Paris, April 26th, 1779. 

SIR, Allow me the honour of proposing to you 
a plan, the success of which, uncertain as it now is, 
will depend perhaps upon your approbation. As your 
means of attack or defence depend on our maritime 
force, would it not be doing a service to the com- 
mon cause to increase for a time that of our allies ? 
To purchase vessels would be too expensive for a 
nation so destitute of money ; it would answer all 
purposes to hire them, and would enable us to make 
such diversions, or to undertake such operations, as 
might be deemed necessary. 

Do you not think, sir, if the King of Sweden 
would lend to America four ships of the line, with 
the half of their crews, and the United States would 
engage to return them within a year upon certain 
conditions, that the step would be advantageous for 
us ? The vessels might come to us under the Swe- 
dish flag. France need not be implicated at all. 
We could supply them in part, provide them with 
officers in blue, and send them out under the Ame- 
rican flag. It would only be necessary to know, 
whether France would engage to be responsible for 

1779, 1780, 1781. 285 

the sum requisite for the hire, and would help to 
complete the equipment. Even if the first part 
should meet with obstacles, the government might 
pledge itself only in case it should exceed my 

I have not as yet spoken to Dr. Franklin about 
the scheme, but I have sounded the Swedish am- 
bassador on the subject, much to my satisfaction ; 
he asked me for a letter, directed to him, which 
might be sent to his king ; and since I saw that 
this important project might result in something 
advantageous, I was constrained to confide it to you, 
and ask your opinion. The Swedish ambassador 
states that the vessels may be here in two months 
and a half; consequently, including the rest of the 
fleet, the whole might be at sea in the month of 
August, and arrive at Rhode Island, Bermuda, or 
somewhere else in America, in the month of Octo- 
ber, which would be a good season. 

It will be necessary for Dr. Franklin to send a 
trustworthy man, or, what would be better, for you 
to send one, upon whom he might depend. The 
proposed engagement requires some promise, and 
especially some hopes, of commerce, that would di- 
minish the expense which must be incurred. Inform 
me, sir, I pray you, whether this little romantic 
scheme has any difficulties, and whether I am to 
prosecute or resign my proposition. 

I am, &c. 

If, whilst we are arranging the negotiation with 
Sweden, the contributions of England should yield 
us anything, I might then recal to your attention 
a favourite project of mine. 



St. Jean d'Angely, near Rochfort, June 12, 1779. 
SIR, How happy I shall think myself whenever 
a safe opportunity of writing to congress is offered, 
I cannot in any way better express than in remind- 
ing them of that unbounded affection and gratitude 
which I shall ever feel for them. So deeply are 
those sentiments engraven on my heart, that I every 
day lament the distance which separates me from 
them, and that nothing was ever so warmly and 
passionately wished for, as to return again to that 
country of which I shall ever consider myself 
as a citizen ; there is no pleasure to be enjoyed 
which could equal this, of finding myself among 
that free and liberal nation, by whose affection and 
confidence I am so highly honoured ; to fight again 
with those brother soldiers of mine to whom I am 
so much indebted. But congress knows that 
former plans have been altered by themselves, that 
others have been thought impossible, as they were 
asked too late in the year.* I will therefore make 
use of the leave of absence they were pleased to 
grant me, and serve the common cause among my 
countrymen, their allies, until happy circumstances 
may conduct me to the American shores, in such a 
way as would make that return more useful to the 
United States. The affairs of America I shall ever 
look upon as my first business whilst I am in 
Europe. Any confidence from the king and minis- 
ters, any popularity I may have among my own 

* This relates to the project of an expedition to Canada, 
and other plans of the same kind. 

1>79, 1780, 1781. 287 

countrymen, any means in my power, shall be, to 
the best of my skill, and till the end of my life, 
exerted in behalf of an interest I have so much at 
heart. What I have hitherto done or said relating 
to America, I think needless to mention, as my 
ardent zeal for her is, I hope, well known to con- 
gress ; but I wish to let them know that if, in my 
proposals, and in my repeated urgent representa- 
tion for getting ships, money, and support of any 
kind, I have not always found the ministry so 
much in earnest as I was myself, they only 
opposed to me natural fears of inconveniences 
which might arise to both countries, or the con- 
viction that such a thing was impossible for the 
present ; but I never could question their good 
will towards America. If congress believe that my 
influence may serve them, in any way, I beg they 
will direct such orders to me, that I may the more 
certainly and properly employ the knowledge I 
have of this court and country for obtaining a 
success in which my heart is so much interested. 
. His excellency, Doctor Franklin, will, no doubt, 
inform you, sir, of the situation of Europe, and the 
respective state of our affairs. The Chevalier de la 
Luzerne will also add thereto the intelligence which 
will be intrusted to him at the time of his departure. 
By the doctor you will learn what has been said or 
thought on account of finances . Germany, Prussia, 
Turkey, and Russia, have made such a peace as the 
French have desired. All the northern kingdoms, 
the Dutch themselves, seem rather disgusted with 
English pride and vexations ; they put themselves 
in a situation to protect their trade of every kind 
with France. Irish intelligence you will be fully 
and particularly acquainted of. What concerns 
Spain will also be laid before you ; so that I have 


nothing to add but to tell you that our affairs seem 
going very fast towards a speedy and honourable 
end. England is now making her last effort, and I 
hope that a great stroke will, before long, abate their 
fantastic, swollen appearance, and shew the narrow 
bounds of their actual power. 

Since we have taken Senegal I don't know of 
any military event which I can mention. There 
has been a privateering expedition against Jersey 
Island, which has been stopped by the difficulty of 
getting ashore. That little attempt, made by some 
few private volunteers, England honoured with the 
name of a public French expedition, and very 
unwisely employed there Admiral Arbuthnot, which 
will interpose a great delay to his reported departure. 
Congress will hear of an expedition against our 
friends of Liverpool and other parts of the English 
coast ; to show there French troops under American 
colours, which on account of raising contributions, 
my concern for American finances had at length 
brought into my head. But the plan was after- 
wards reduced to so small a scale that they thought 
the command would not suit me, and the ex- 
pedition itself has been delayed until more im- 
portant operations take place. There I hope to be 
employed, and if anything important should be the 
matter, I shall, as a faithful American officer, give 
an accurate account thereof to congress and General 

The so flattering affection which congress and the 
American nation are pleased to honour me with, 
makes me very desirous of letting them know, if I 
dare speak so friendly, how I enjoyed my private si- 
tuation. Happy, in the sight of my friends and family, 
after I was, by your attentive goodness, safely 
brought again to my native shore, I met there with 

1779, 1780, 1781. 289 

such an honourable reception, with such kind 
sentiments, as by far exceeded any wishes I durst 
have conceived ; I am indebted for that inexpres- 
sible satisfaction which the good will of my coun- 
trymen towards me affords to my heart, to their 
ardent love for America, to the cause of freedom 
and its defenders, their new allies, and to the idea 
they entertain that I have had the happiness to serve 
the United States. To these motives, sir, and to 
the letter congress was pleased to write on my 
account, I owe the many favours the king has con- 
ferred upon me ; there was no time lost in appoint- 
ing me to the command of his own regiment of 
dragoons, and every thing he could have done, every 
thing I could have wished, I have received on 
account of your kind recommendations. 

I have been some days in this small town, near 
Rochefort harbour, where I have joined the king's 
regiment, and where other troops are stationed which 
I for the moment command ; but I hope to leave 
this place before long, in order to play a more active 
part and come nearer the common enemy. Before 
my departure from Paris I sent to the minister of 
foreign affairs, (who, by the bye, is one of our best 
friends,) intelligence concerning a loan in Holland, 
which I want France to make or answer for in 
behalf of America ; but I have not yet heard any 
thing on that head. M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne 
will give you more explicit and fresher news, as he 
is particularly ordered to do so, and he sets out di- 
rectly from Versailles. That new minister plenipo- 
tentiary I beg leave to recommend most earnestly to 
congress, not only as a public man, but also as a pri- 
vate gentleman. From the acquaintance I have made 
with him, I conceive he is a sensible, modest, well- 
meaning man ; a man truly worthy of enjoying the 

VOL. i. u 


spectacle of American freedom. I hope that hy his 
good qualities and his talents, he will obtain both 
public confidence and private friendship. 

Wherever the interests of 'beloved friends are 
seriously concerned, candid and warm affection 
knows not how to calculate, and throws away all 
considerations. I will frankly tell you, sir, that 
nothing can more effectually hurt our interests, 
consequence, and reputation, in Europe, than to 
hear of disputes or divisions between the whigs. 
Nothing could urge my touching upon this delicate 
matter but the unhappy experience of every day 
on that head, since I can hear, myself, what is said 
on this side of the Atlantic, and the arguments I 
have to combat with. 

Let me, sir, finish this long letter, by begging 
you will present once more to the congress of the 
llnited States, the tribute of an unbounded zeal 
and affection, of the highest respect and most sin- 
cere gratitude, with which I shall be animated, till 
the last moment of my life. 

With the most, &c. 



St. Jean d'Angely, near Rochefort harbour, June 12, 1779. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, Here is at length a safe op- 
portunity of writing to you, and I may tell you what 
sincere concern I feel at our separation. There never 
was a friend, my dear general, so much, so ten- 
derly beloved, as I love and respect you : happy 
in our union, in the pleasure of living near to you, 
in the pleasing satisfaction of partaking every sen- 

1779, 1780, 1781. 291 

tlttlent of your heart, every event of your life, I have 
taken such a habit of being inseparable from you, 
that I cannot now accustom myself to your absence, 
and I am more and more afflicted at that enormous 
distance which keeps me so far from my dearest 
friend. I am the more concerned at this par- 
ticular time, my dear general, as I think the cam- 
paign is opened, you are in the field, and I ardently 
wish I might be near you ; and, if possible, 
contribute to your success and glory. Forgive me 
for what I am going to say, but I cannot help re- 
minding you that a commander-in-chief should 
never expose himself too much j that in case 
General Washington was killed, nay, even seriously 
wounded, there is no officer in the army who could 
fill his place, every battle would most certainly be 
lost, and the American army, the American cause 
itself, would, perhaps, be entirely ruined. 

Inclosed I send your excellency a copy of my letter 
to congress, in which you will find such intelligence 
as I was able to give them. The Chevalier de la Lu- 
zerne intends going to congress by passing through 
head quarters* I promised I would introduce him to 
your excellency, and I have requested him to let you 
know of any news he may have been entrusted with. 
Such a conversation will better acquaint you than 
the longest letter. The ministry told me they would 
let him know the true state of affairs before his de- 
parture. By what you will hear, my dear general, you 
will see that our affairs take a good turn, and I hope 
England will receive a good stroke before the end 
of the campaign. Besides the good dispositions of 
Spain, Ireland is a good deal tired of English tyranny. 
I, in confidence, tell you that the scheme of my heart 
would be to make her as free and independent as 

u 2 


America. I have formed some private relations 
there. God grant that we may succeed, and the 
era of freedom at length arrive for the happiness 
of mankind. I shall know more about Ireland in 
a few weeks, and then I will immediately communi- 
cate with your excellency. As to congress, my dear 
general, it is too numerous a body for one safely 
to unbosom oneself, as with one's best friend. 

In referring you to M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne, 
for what concerns the public news of this time, the 
present situation of affairs, and the designs of our 
ministry, I will only speak to your excellency about 
that great article, money. It gave me much trouble, 
and I insisted upon it so much, that the director of 
finances looks upon me as a devil. France has met 
great expenses lately ; those Spaniards will not give 
their dollars easily. However, Dr. Franklin has 
got some money to pay the bills of congress, and 
I hope I shall determine them to greater sacri- 
fices. Serving America, my dear general, is to my 
heart an inexpressible happiness. 

There is another point for which you should em- 
ploy all your influence and popularity. For God's 
sake prevent their loudly disputing together. 
Nothing hurts so much the interest and reputation 
of America, as to hear of their intestine quarrels. 
On the other hand there are two parties in France : 
MM. Adams and Lee on one part, Doctor Frank- 
lin and his friends on the other. So great is the 
concern which these divisions give me, that I cannot 
wait on these gentlemen as. much as I could wish, 
for fear of occasioning disputes and bringing them 
to a greater collision. That, my dear general, I in- 
trust to your friendship, but I could not help touch- 
ing upon that string in my letter to congress. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 293 

Since I left America, my dear General, not a 
single line has arrived from you ;* this I attribute to 
winds, accidents, and deficiency of opportunities ; 
for I dare flatter myself General Washington would 
not lose that of making his friend happy. In the 
name of that very friendship, my dear general, never 
miss any opportunity of letting me know how you 
do. I cannot express to you how uneasy I feel 
on account of your health, and the dangers you 
are, perhaps at this moment, exposing yourself 
to. These you may possibly laugh at, and call wo- 
manlike considerations ; but so, my dear friend, I 
feel, and I never could conceal the sentiments of 
my heart. 

I don't know what has become of Colonel Nevill 
and the Chevalier de la Colombe. I beg you 
will make some inquiries respecting them, and do 
every thing in your power for their speedy exchange, 
in case they have been taken. Inclosed I send 
you a small note for Mr. Nevill. Give me leave 
to recommend to your excellency our new pleni- 
potentiary minister, who seems to me extremely 
well calculated for deserving general esteem and 

I know, my dear general, you wish to hear some- 
thing about my private affairs : these I give an ac- 
count of to congress, and shall only add that I am here 
as happy as possible. My family, my friends, my 
countrymen, made me such a reception, and shewed 
me every day such an affection, as I should not have 
dared to hope. I have been for some days in this place, 

* This conjecture was a just one: by the correspondence of 
General Washington, who kept copies of all his letters, we per- 
ceive that he often wrote to M. de Lafayette, whose letters, on 
the contrary, during this voyage, consist but of two, because we 
have been able to find only those that arrived in America. 


where there is the king's own regiment of dragoons, 
which I command, and some regiments of infantry, 
which are, for the present, under my orders ; hut I 
hope soon to begin a more active life, and in con- 
sequence thereof my return to Paris is, I believe, very 
near at hand ; from thence I shall get employed in 
whatever may be done against the common enemy. 
What I wish, niy dear general, what would make me 
the happiest of men, is to join again American colours, 
or to put under your orders a division of four or five 
thousand countrymen of mine. In case any such 
co-operation or private expedition should be de- 
sired, I think (if peace is not settled this winter) 
that an early demand might be complied with for 
the next campaign. 

Our ministry is rather slow in their operations, 
and have a great propensity for peace, provided it he 
an honourable one, so that I think America must 
shew herself in good earnest for war till such con- 
ditions are obtained. American independence is a 
certain, undoubted point, but I wish to see that in- 
dependence acknowledged with advantageous con- 
ditions. This, my dear general, is between us ; as for 
what concerns the good will of the king, of the minis- 
ters, of the public, towards America, I, an American 
citizen, am fully satisfied with it ; and I am sure the 
alliance and friendship between both nations will be 
established in such a way as will last for ever. 

Be so kind, my dear general, as to present my 
best respects to your lady, and tell her how happy 
I should feel to present them myself to her at her 
own house. I have a wife, my dear general, who is in 
love with you, and her affection for you seems to me 
to be so well justified that I cannot oppose myself to 
that sentiment of hers. She begs you will receive 
her compliments and make them acceptable to Mrs. 

1779. 1780, 1781. 295 

Washington. I hope, my dear general, you will 
come to see us in Europe, and most certainly I give 
you my word that if I am not happy enough to 
be sent to America before the peace, I shall by all 
means go there as soon as I can escape. I must 
not forget to tell you, my dear friend, that I have 
the hope of being soon once more a father. 

All Europe wants to see you so much, my dear 
general, that you cannot refuse them that pleasure. 
I have boldly affirmed that you will pay me a visit 
after the peace is settled, so that if you deny me, 
you will hurt your friend's reputation throughout 
the world. 

I beg you will present my best compliments to 
your family, and remind them of my tender affection 
for them all. Be so kind, also, to present my com- 
pliments to the general officers, to all the officers of 
the army, to every one, from the first major-general 
to the last soldier. 

I most earnestly entreat you, my dear general, to 
let me hear from you. Write me how you do, how 
things are going on. The minutest detail will be in- 
finitely interesting to me. Don't forget anything 
concerning yourself, and be certain that any little 
event or observation concerning you, however 
trifling it may appear, will have my warmest atten- 
tion and interest. Adieu, my dear general, I cannot 
lay down the pen, and I enjoy the greatest pleasure 
in scribbling you this long letter. Don't forget me, 
my dear general ; be ever as affectionate to me as 
you have been ; these sentiments I deserve from the 
ardent ones which fill my heart. With the highest 
respect, with the most sincere and tender friendship 
that ever human heart has felt, I have the honour 
to be, &c. 


For God's sake write me frequent and long letters, 
and speak chiefly about yourself and your private 

St. Jean, d'Angely, 13th June, 1779. 

I HAVE just received, my dear general, an express 
from court, with orders to repair immediately to Ver- 
sailles. There I am to meet M. le Comte de Vaux, 
Lieutenant-General, who is appointed to the com- 
mand of the troops intended for an expedition. In 
that army I shall be employed in the capacity of aide- 
mare'chai-general des logis, which is, in our service, 
a very important and agreeable place ; so that I 
shall serve in the most pleasing manner, and shall be 
in a situation to know everything and to render 
services. The necessity of setting off immediately 
prevents my writing to General Greene, to the gen- 
tlemen of your family, and other friends of mine in 
the army, whom I beg to accept my excuses on ac- 
count of this order, which I did not expect so soon. 
Everything that happens you shall most certainly 
be acquainted of by me, and I will for the moment 
finish my letter in assuring your excellency again of 
my profound respect and tenderest friendship. 
Farewell, my dear general, and let our mutual 
affection last for ever. 


Havre, 30th July, 1779. 

SIR, I have received the letter which you have 
had the goodness to write to me, and in which you 
promise me another after having read to M. de 

1779, 1780, 1781. 297 

Maurepas the paper which I addressed to you.* 
It is shewing me a great favour to employ, in 
answering me, a part of your time, which is so 
precious ; and I remain in eager expectation of your 
second letter. Being convinced that there is no 
time to lose in adopting the measures which I pro- 
pose, my love for my country makes me feel an 
impatience, which I fear may pass for importunity ; 
but you will excuse a fault arising from a feeling 
which is dear to every good citizen. 

The Prince de Montbarrey will give you, with 
regard to Havre, ah 1 the information you may desire. 
You are certainly right in saying that my blood is 
in fermentation. We hear nothing of M. d'Orvil- 
liers. Some say that he has gone to the Azores, to 
intercept the West Indian fleet, and to join M. 
d'Estaing, who was to return here, as I was informed 
by yourself and M. de Sartine ; others affirm that 
he has gone to America. 

The latter reasoning does not bring me to their 
opinion ; and it is very probable that if our fleet had 
been sent, as they suppose, I should not now be in 
Normandy. Be that as it may, you know, I hope that 
any arrangement, and any station, will satisfy me, 
and that I do not claim promotion, or assistance, or 
any mark of favour whatsoever. If M. d'Orvilliers, 
or a detachment, is now in the independent states of 
America, and my presence there can be in any way 
more serviceable than here, I shall be very willing 
to go over in an American frigate, which I will take 
on my own authority ; and with the very natural 
pretext of rejoining the army in which I served, I 

* This letter, in the form of a memorial, and containing the 
plan of an expedition to America, has been placed at the end of 
the volume. (See Appendix 2.) 


will go and endeavour to use my influence for the 
advantage of my country. Several persons say, 
also, that Spanish dollars have been sent to the 
Americans ; I earnestly hope it is so, as my last 
advices shew the necessity for them. 

If the project, for want of sufficient means, should 
not be adopted this year, I deem it my duty to sub- 
mit to you a proposition which would in a great 
measure accomplish the same object. 

While waiting until next year to commence com- 
bined operations with a squadron, why might you 
not send to Boston three thousand, or even two 
thousand men, with three hundred dragoons, who 
should be joined in the spring by ships of war 
and a reinforcement of troops ? This detachment 
could be sent by two fifty gun ships, using one of 
the India Company's ships for a transport, or 
Spanish vessels, if you prefer them. To avoid ex- 
pense, let them sail in company with the ships 
destined for the West Indies, with the escort of the 
merchantmen, with the Bonhomme Richard, and 
all the frigates at Lorient. These troops will 
be left in America until the next campaign, and I 
will now mention what would be the result of such a 
measure ; it being well understood that the convoy 
would proceed to the West Indies, or to any other 
destination, after having landed the detachment. 
First, we should raise by our presence the value of 
their paper money, an important point for French 
commerce ; secondly, we should be at hand to ob- 
tain information, and might take such preliminary 
steps as would conduce, eventually, to our obtaining 
possession of Halifax ; thirdly, such a detachment 
would inspire the American army with new vigour, 
would powerfully support an attack for retaking 
the forts on the north river, and would lead the 

1779, 1780, 1781. 299 

Americans to such undertakings as circumstances 
might render advisable. 

You have told me to give you all my ideas. It 
is my duty to submit to you this last one, which, 
as it seems to me, is not liable to any objection. 
At first, I was afraid of expressing my opinion so 
strongly as I was inclined to do, lest I should be 
suspected of peculiar motives and predilections ; 
but, now that people must know me better, and 
that you have my entire confidence, I speak more 
freely, and I solemnly affirm, upon my honour, that 
if half my fortune was spent in sending succours of 
troops to the Americans, I should believe that, in so 
doing, I rendered to my country a service more im- 
portant than this sacrifice. 

You will say, perhaps, that it will be difficult to 
find subsistence for the troops during the winter ; 
but in paying in specie, we should obtain provisions 
very cheap, and the additional number of mouths 
would be very small in comparison to the popula- 
tion of the country. 

Permit me, sir, to offer you the assurance of my 


Paris, Monday morning, August, 1779. 
IT is not, sir, to the king's minister that I am now 
writing, but my confidence in your kindness 
makes me hope that I am addressing a man whom 
I may safely call my friend, to whom I am merely 
giving an account of all that is most interesting to 
me. You may confer a great obligation upon me, 
(and render one perhaps to the public,) by employ- 


ing in a less useless manner the few talents a soldier 
may possess, who has been hitherto rather fortunate 
in war, and who supplies his want of knowledge by 
the purest ardour in the cause. 

I have seen the Comte de Maurepas, and I told 
him what I have the honour of communicating to 
you ; he would not agree to the projects in question, 
and was doubtless right, although my own opinion 
remains unchanged ; but he thinks that I, who was 
one of the first to speak of the expedition with 
fifteen hundred or two thousand men, must now 
command six hundred hussars, and that this change 
would be injurious to me. He, perhaps, imagined, 
as some others have done, from kindness towards 
me, that such a command would be beneath me. 
I ought not, besides, he added, to exchange a cer- 
tainty for an uncertainty. 

To this I answer, in the first place, that from the 
extreme kindness of the public towards me, nothing 
(I mean in relation to what passes in my own heart) 
can ever be injurious to me ; that my setting out 
with only six hundred men would have been attri- 
buted to its real motive, and therefore pardoned. 
In the second place, to suspect me of entering into 
a calculation with my country, and of despising 
any means whatever of serving her, would either 
prove a want of discernment or of memory ; and to 
the last objection, I reply, that the expedition of 
which I spoke to you yesterday, is quite as certain 
as my own. 

If the troops had remained in a state of inactivity, 
it would have been very natural if my ardour had 
induced me to adopt the trade of a corsair ; nay, it 
would have been natural if I had set out in an 
armed boat ; but when an opportunity offers for 
employing on a grander scale the talents of a man 

1779, 1780, 1781. 301 

who has never exercised a soldier's trade but on a 
wide field, it would be unfortunate for him to lose 
the power of distinguishing himself, and rendering, 
perhaps, some important services to his own 
country ; and it would be injudicious in the go- 
vernment not to put to the test that reputation 
which has been gained in foreign service. 

May I, sir, speak to you with frankness ? What 
is most proper for me, would be an advance guard 
of grenadiers and chasseurs, and a detachment of 
the king's dragoons, making in all, from fifteen 
hundred to two thousand men, to raise me above 
the line, and give me the power of action. There 
are not many lieutenants-general, still fewer field- 
marshals, and no brigadiers, who have had such 
important commands confided to them as chance 
has given me. I also know the English, and they 
know me two important considerations during a 
war. The command I wished for has even been 
given to a colonel. 

It is said that M. de Maillebois, M. de Voyer, 
and M. de Melfort, will be employed ; I know the 
first and last of these gentlemen ; M. de Melfort is 
a field-marshal, and although I have exercised that 
trade myself, I should be well pleased to be under 
his orders. I wish to be chosen in the report of 
the army, not of the court ; I do not belong to the 
court, still less am I a courtier ; and I beg the 
king's ministers to look upon me as having belonged 
to a corps of the guards. 

The Count de Maurepas only replied to me, per- 
haps, to divert my attention from some projects 
which are known unto me ; I shall see him again 
on Wednesday morning, and my fate will then be 
decided. You would give me, sir, a great proof of 


friendship, by paying him a visit either to-night or 
to-morrow morning, and communicating to him the 
same sentiments you expressed to me yesterday. 

It is more important that you should see him at 
that time, because, if I hear from Lorient that the 
vessels are in readiness, I know not how to dis* 
semble, and I must demand my farewell audience. 
The little expedition will then be given to some 
lieutenant-colonel, who may never have looked with 
the eye of a general, who may not possess great 
talents, but who, if he be brave and prudent, will 
lead the six hundred men as well as M. de Turenne 
could do if he were to return to life. The detach- 
ment of dragoons might then be kept back, the 
more so, as when reduced to fifty it would only be- 
come ridiculous ; and the major, who takes charge 
of the detail, would likewise attend to the detail 
of my advance guard, in which I place great de- 

I acknowledge to you, that I feel no dependence 
on M. de Montbarry, and I even wish, that my 
affairs could be arranged by you and M. de Mau- 
repas. I know, sir, that I am asking for a proof of 
friendship which must give you some trouble, but 
I request it because I depend fully upon that friend- 

Pardon this scrawl, sir; pardon my importunity; 
and pardon the liberty I take in assuring you so 
simply of my attachment and respect. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 303 



Passy, 24th August, 1779. 

SIR, The congress, sensible of your merit towards 
the United States, but unable adequately to reward 
it, determined to present you with a sword, as a 
small mark of their grateful acknowledgment : they 
directed it to be ornamented with suitable devices. 
Some of the principal actions of the war, in which 
you distinguished yourself by your bravery and con- 
duct, are therefore represented upon it. These, 
with a few emblematic figures, all admirably well 
executed, make its principal value. By the help of 
the exquisite artists of France, I find it easy to ex- 
press everything but the sense we have of your 
worth, and our obligations to you for this, figures, 
and even words, are found insufficient. I, therefore, 
only add that, with the most perfect esteem, I have 
the honour to be, B. FRANKLIN. 

P.S. My grandson goes to Havre with the sword, 
and will have the honour of presenting it to you. 


Havre, 29th August, 177& 

SIR, Whatever expectations might have been 
raised from the sense of past favours, the goodness 
of the United States to me has ever been such, 
that on every occasion it far surpasses any idea I 
could have conceived. A new proof of that flatter- 
ing truth I find in the noble present, which con- 


gress has been pleased to honour me with, and 
which is offered in such a manner by your excel- 
lency as will exceed everything, but the feelings of 
an unbounded gratitude. 

In some of the devices I cannot help finding too 
honourable a reward for those slight services which, 
in concert with my fellow soldiers, and under the 
god-like American hero's orders, I had the good 
fortune to render. The sight of those actions, where 
I was a witness of American bravery and patriotic 
spirit, I shall ever enjoy with that pleasure which 
becomes a heart glowing with love for the nation, 
and the most ardent zeal for its glory and happi- 
ness. Assurances of gratitude, which I beg leave 
to present to your excellency, are much too in- 
adequate to my feelings, and nothing but such sen- 
timents can properly acknowledge your kindness 
towards me. The polite manner in which Mr. 
Franklin was pleased to deliver that inestimable 
sword, lays me under great obligations to him, and 
demands my particular thanks. 

With the most perfect respect, I have the honour 
to be, &c. 



West Point, 30th Sept., 1779. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, A few days ago, I wrote a 
letter in much haste ; since that, I have been ho- 
noured with the company of Chevalier de la Lu- 
zerne, and by him was favoured with your obliging 
letter of the 12th of June, which filled me with 
equal pleasure and surprise ; the latter at hearing 

1779, 1780, 1781. 305 

that you had not received one of the many letters I 
had written to you since you left the American 
shore. It gave me infinite pleasure to hear from 
your sovereign, and of the joy which your safe ar- 
rival in France had diffused among your friends. I 
had no doubt that this would be the case ; to hear 
it from yourself adds pleasure to the account ; and 
here, my dear friend, let me congratulate you on 
your new, honourable, and pleasing appointment in 
the army commanded by the Count de Vaux, which 
I shall accompany with an assurance that none can 
do it with more warmth of affection, or sincere joy, 
than myself. Your forward zeal in the cause of 
liberty ; your singular attachment to this infant 
world ; your ardent and persevering efforts, not 
only in America, but since your return to France, 
to serve the United States ; your polite attention to 
Americans, and your strict and uniform friendship 
for me, have ripened the first impressions of esteem 
and attachment which I imbibed for you into such 
perfect love and gratitude, as neither time nor ab- 
sence can impair. This will warrant my assur- 
ing you that, whether in the character of an officer 
at the head of a corps of gallant Frenchmen, if cir. 
cumstances should require this ; whether as a major- 
general, commanding a division of the American army; 
or whether, after our swords and spears have given 
place to the ploughshare and pruning-hook, I see 
you as a private gentleman, a friend and companion, 
I shall welcome you with all the warmth of friend- 
ship to Columbia's shores ; and, in the latter case, 
to my rural cottage, where homely fare and a cor- 
dial reception shall be substituted for delicacies and 
costly living. This, from past experience, I know 
you can submit to ; and if the lovely partner of 
your happiness will consent to participate with us 
VOL. i. x 


in such rural entertainment and amusements, I can 
undertake, in behalf of Mrs. Washington, that she 
will do everything in her power to make Virginia 
agreeable to the Marchioness. My inclination and 
endeavours to do this cannot be doubted, when I 
assure you that I love everybody that is dear to 
you, and, consequently, participate in the pleasure 
you feel in the prospect .of again becoming a parent ; 
and do most sincerely congratulate you and your 
lady on this fresh pledge she is about to give you of 
her love. 

I thank you for the trouble you have taken, and 
your polite attention, in favouring me with a copy 
of your letter to congress ; and feel, as I am per- 
suaded they must do, the force of such ardent zeal 
as you therein express for the interest of this coun- 
try. The propriety of the hint you have given them 
must carry conviction, and, I trust, will have a salu- 
tary effect ; though there is not, I believe, the same 
occasion for the admonition now that there was 
several months ago. Many late changes have taken 
place in that honourable" body, which have removed, 
in a very great degree, if not wholly, the discordant 
spirit which, it is said, prevailed in the winter, and 
1 hope measures will also be taken to remove those 
unhappy and improper differences which have ex- 
tended themselves elsewhere, to the prejudice of our 
affairs in Europe. 

I have a great pleasure in the visit which the 
Chevalier de la Luzerne and Monsieur Marbois did 
me the honour to make at this camp ; concerning 
both of whom I have imbibed the most favourable 
impressions, and I thank you for the honourable 
mention you made of me to them. The chevalier, 
till he had announced himself to congress, did not 
choose to be received in his public character ; if he 

1779, 1780, 1781. 307 

had, except paying him military honours, it was not 
my intention to depart from that plain and simple 
manner of living which accords with the real in- 
terest and policy of men struggling under every 
difficulty for the attainment of the most inestimable 
blessing of life, liberty. The chevalier was polite 
enough to approve my principle, and condescended 
to appear pleased with our Spartan living. In a 
word, he made us all exceedingly happy by his 
affability and good humour, while he remained in 

' You are pleased, my dear marquis, to express an 
earnest desire of seeing me in France, after the 
establishment of our independency, and do me the 
honour to add, that you are not singular in your 
request. Let me entreat you to be persuaded, that, 
to meet you anywhere, after the final accomplish- 
ment of so glorious an event, would contribute to 
my happiness ; and that to visit a country to whose 
generous aid we stand so much indebted, would be 
an additional pleasure ; but remember, my good 
friend, that I am unacquainted with your language, 
that I am too far advanced in years to acquire a 
knowledge of it, and that, to converse through the 
medium of an interpreter, upon common occasions, 
especially with the ladies, must appear so extremely 
awkward, insipid, and uncouth, that I can scarcely 
bear it in idea. I will, therefore, hold myself dis- 
engaged for the present; but when I see you in 
Virginia, we will talk of this matter, and fix our 

The declaration of Spain in favour of France has 
given universal joy to every Whig ; while the poor 
Tory droops like a withering flower under a declin- 
ing sun. We are anxiously expecting to hear of great 
and important events on your side of the Atlantic ; 

x 2 


at present, the imagination is left in the wide field 
of conjecture, our eyes one moment are turned to 
an invasion of England, then of Ireland, Minorca, 
Gibraltar ; in a word, we hope everything, hut know 
not what to expect, or where to fix. The glorious 
success of Count d'Estaing in the West Indies, at 
the same time that it adds dominion to France, and 
fresh lustre to her arms, is a source of new and un- 
expected misfortune to our tender and generous pa- 
rent, and must serve to convince her of the folly of 
quitting the substance in pursuit of a shadow ; and, 
as there is no experience equal to that which is 
bought, I trust she will have a superabundance of 
this kind of knowledge, and be convinced, as I hope 
all the world and every tyrant in it will be, that the 
best and only safe road to honour, glory, and true 
dignity, is justice. 

We have such repeated advice of Count d'Es- 
taing's being in these seas, that, though I have no 
official information of the event, I cannot help 
giving entire credit to the report, and looking for 
his arrival every moment, and I am preparing ac- 
cordingly ; the enemy at New York also expect it ; 
and, to guard against the consequences, as much as 
it is in their power to do, are repairing and strength- 
ening all the old fortifications, and adding new ones 
in the vicinity of the city. Their fears, however, do 
not retard an embarkation which was making, and 
generally believed to be for the West Indies or 
Charlestown : it still goes forward ; and, by my in- 
telligence, it will consist of a pretty large detach- 
ment. About fourteen days ago, one British regiment 
(the forty-fourth completed) and three Hessian regi- 
ments were embarked, and are gone, as is supposed, 
to Halifax. The operations of the enemy this cam- 
paign have been confined to the establishment of 

1779, 1780, 1781. 309 

works of defence, taking a post at King's Ferry, and 
burning the defenceless towns of New Haven, Fair- 
field, and Norwalk, on the Sound, within reach of 
their shipping, where little else was, or could be, 
opposed to them, than the cries of distressed 
women and helpless children ; but these were offered 
in vain. Since these notable exploits, they have 
never stepped out of their works or beyond their 
lines. How a conduct of this kind is to effect the 
conquest of America, the wisdom of a North, a Ger- 
main, or a Sandwich can best decide, it is too deep 
and refined for the comprehension of common un- 
derstandings and the general run of politicians. 

Mrs. Washington, who set out for Virginia when 
we took the field in June, has often, in her letters to 
me, inquired if I had heard from you, and will be 
much pleased at hearing that you are well and 
happy. In her name, as she is not here, I thank you 
for your polite attention to her, and shall speak her 
sense of the honour conferred on her by the Marchio- 
ness. When I look back to the length of this letter, 
I have not the courage to give it a careful reading 
for the purpose of correction : you must, therefore, 
receive it with all its imperfections, accompanied 
with this assurance, that, though there may be 
many inaccuracies in the letter, there is not a single 
defect in the friendship of, my dear Marquis, yours, 




Havre, 7th October, 1779. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, From those happy ties of 
friendship by which you were pleased to unite 
yourself with me, from the promises you so tenderly 
made me when we parted at Fishkill, gave me such 
expectations of hearing often from you, that com- 
plaints ought to be permitted to my affectionate 
heart. Not a line from you, my dear general, has 
yet arrived into my hands, and though several ships 
from America, several despatches from congress or 
the French minister, are safely brought to France, 
my ardent hopes of getting at length a letter from 
General Washington have ever been unhappily dis- 
appointed : I cannot in any way account for that bad 
luck, and when I remember that in those little sepa- 
rations where I was but some days from you, the 
most friendly letters, the most minute account of 
your circumstances, were kindly written to me, I am 
convinced you have not neglected and almost for- 
gotten me for so long a time. I have, therefore, to 
complain of fortune, of some mistake or neglect in 
acquainting you that there was an opportunity, of 
anything, indeed, but what could injure the sense I 
have of your affection for me. Let me beseech you, 
my dear general, by that mutual, tender, and ex- 
perienced friendship in which I have put an im- 
mense portion of my happiness, to be very exact in 
inquiring for occasions, and never to miss those 

* To this letter was joined a long letter to the president of 
congress, which contained nearly the same things, expressed in 
a different manner. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 311 

which may convey to me letters that I shall be so 
much pleased to receive. 

Inclosed I send to your excellency the copy of 
my letters to congress, which, in concert with Mr. 
Franklin's longer despatches, will give you a sketch 
of European intelligence. Contrary winds have 
much delayed an expedition which I think should 
have been undertaken much sooner : the kings of 
France and Spain seem desirous of carrying it on 
before the winter ; it may be, however, deferred till 
next spring, and the siege of Gibraltar would be the 
only land expedition for the present campaign. In 
a few weeks time, when West India successes may 
be compared to those in Europe, my gazettes and 
predictions will have a greater degree of certainty, 
but one must not be a conjuror to see that England 
is in such a way that one may defy her to get up 
again, and that a happy peace, blessed with Ame- 
rican independence, will, in this or the ensuing cam- 
paign, be the certain effect of the present war. 

As my private circumstances are somewhat 
interesting to your friendship, I will tell you, my 
dear general, that since my last letter I have hardly 
quitted this place, where head-quarters had been 
fixed. I was to disembark with the grenadiers 
forming the vanguard, and am, therefore, one of 
the first who will land on the English shore. The 
king's own regiment of dragoons, which he gave 
me on my return, was to embark at Brest, and join 
us a few days after the landing. From Count 
d'Estaing's expedition on the American coasts, the 
nation raises great expectations* and very impatiently 
waits for intelligence. How unhappy I am to find 
myself so far from you on such an occasion you 
will easily conceive. The impression of sorrow 
such a thought gives me cannot be alleviated but 


by the sense I have that the general opinion of the 
turn warlike operations will take this campaign , 
the ties of my duty towards my own country, where 
my services had been employed for the expedition 
against England, and the hope I entertained of being 
here more useful to the United States, had not left 
me the choice of the part I should take for this 
campaign. I hope, my dear sir, you will agree in 
opinion with me. 

Whatever may be Count d'Estaing's success in 
America, it will bring on new projects and opera- 
tions. My ideas I laid before your excellency at 
Fishkills ; but permit me to tell you again how 
earnestly I wish to join you. Nothing could make 
me so delighted as the happiness of finishing the 
war under your orders. That, I think, if asked by 
you, will be granted to congress and your excel- 
lency. But be certain, my dear general, that in 
any situation, in any case, let me act as a French 
or as an American officer, my first wish, my first 
pleasure, will be to serve again with you. However 
happy I am in France, however well treated by my 
country and king, I have taken such a habit of 
being with you, I am tied to you, to America, to 
my fellow soldiers by such an affection, that the 
moment when I shall sail for your country will be 
one of the most wished for and the happiest in mv 

From an American newspaper I find that a cer- 
tain English intelligence had been propagated 
through the United States, that, at the head of 
fifteen hundred officers or non-commissioned officers, 
I was going to embark for America, and that, with 
soldiers of your army embodied under them, I 
wanted to teach military discipline throughout the 
American army. However remote I am from 

1779, 1780, 1781. 313 

thinking of teaching my own masters, and however 
distant from such views was that command in 
France, whose end you very well know, I could not 
help taking it as a reflection on the American army. 
The English troops may remember that on some par- 
ticular occasions I have not had to lament the want 
of discipline and spirit in the troops which I had the 
honour to command. Whilst we have but the same 
British army to fight with, we need not be looking 
out for any other improvement than the same qua- 
lities which have often enabled my fellow American 
soldiers to give, instead of receiving, pretty good 
lessons to an enemy, whose justly-reputed courage 
added a new reputation to American bravery and 
military conduct. 

The above article, my dear general, I beg you 
will have printed in the several newspapers. 

As there is but a little time to write before the 
sailing of the vessel, I cannot call to mind all the 
friends I have in the army, unless your excellency 
is pleased to make them a thousand compliments 
from one who heartily loves them, and whose first 
wish is to be again in their company. 

I congratulate you, my dear general, on the 
spirited expedition of Stony Point,* and am glad 
it has added a new lustre to our arms. 

Be so kind, my dear friend, as to present my best 
respects to your lady. Mine begs leave to be kindly 
remembered to you and to her. Thousand assur- 
ances of friendship wait from me on your family. 

Oh ! my dear general, how happy I should be to 
embrace you again ! 

* A brilliant exploit of General Wayne, who, on the 15th of 
July, took by assault the fort of Stony Point, and forced five 
hundred and fifty-four English to capitulate. 


With such affection as is above all expressions 
any language may furnish, I have the honour to be, 
very respectfully, &c. 


Versailles, February 2d, 1780. 

You approved, sir, of my putting down in writing, 
before conversing with you upon the subject of the 
expedition, some of the measures necessary to be 
taken in either of the following cases : first, if I 
should command the French detachment ; and 
secondly, if I should resume an American division.* 

I must begin by observing that this commission 
is not only a military and political, but also a social 
affair ; and from the circumstances under which I 
am now placed, I assure you, on my honour, that I 
believe the first measure would be most favourable 
to the public service, and the interest of France as 
regards her allies. 

As I must immediately begin my preparations, I 
should wish to be informed of the decision in suffi- 
cient time to select some officers of proper age, 
experience, and talents, with whom I can become 
acquainted before I take charge of the corps; and 
on this account it is necessary to arrange matters 

* This letter contains the basis of the plan which was finally 
adopted. We have been obliged to retrench several letters which 
relate to projects analogous to those presented at various periods 
by M. de Lafayette. It was at length determined to send an auxi- 
liary corps even stronger than he had hoped to obtain. As to 
himself, he was to precede it to America, whither he repaired 
with political instructions from the French cabinet, and to re- 
sume a command in the army of the United States. His in- 
structions are dated the 5th of March ; his departure took place 
the 19th. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 315 

immediately with the Prince de Montbarrey. Two 
old experienced lieutenant-colonels should command 
the infantry under me : in distant expeditions, it is 
necessary that officers should suit each other, and I 
am particularly fond of old officers. 

In regard to myself, sir, I ask for nothing, and 
as during the course of a war I may hope to acquire 
rank, you might either give me one of those com- 
missions of M. de Sartine, which are only of use in 
America, or one that would not prevent my seniors 
from resuming afterwards their rank, or else letters 
of service, to enable me simply to command in the 
capacity of an American general officer. 

There are three methods of concealing the real 
aim of the expedition : 1st, to set out together for 
Lorient, under pretence of taking an island, and 
operating in Carolina in the autumn ; 2nd, to 
pretend to send troops to M. de Bouille ; there 
need be no commander, and I should have the title 
of mare'chal-des-logis ; 3d, for me to set out im- 
mediately with the grenadiers and dragoons for 
America, and that the four battalions, commanded 
by the two ancient officers, should join me at Rhode 

If I should have the command, you may act with 
perfect security, because the Americans know me 
too well to feel the slightest anxiety. I will bind 
myself, if it be desired, to ask for neither rank nor 
titles, and, to put the ministry quite at their ease, 
I will even promise to refuse them should they be 
offered me. 

In the second case, sir, it would be necessary to 
prevent, beforehand, in America, the bad effects 
that the arrival of another commander would excite : 
that I am not to lead that detachment is the last 
idea that could ever occur in that country ; I will 


say, therefore, that for myself I prefer having an 
American division. 

I must be in the secret to prepare the various 
measures, and inform General Washington of the 
transaction. A secret with which I was not 
acquainted would appear very suspicious at Phila- 

Three merchant frigates and a transport ship 
would be procured at Lorient. We have, it is said, 
an American crew; the fifteen thousand suits of 
clothes, and fifteen thousand guns, &c. might be 
embarked ; at the end of the month it would be 
necessary to set out for the continent. 

On arriving at a port, I should endeavour to com- 
mence my operations with General Washington ; I 
should take a division in the army, and, with M. de 
la Luzerne's aid, prepare everything for the arrival 
of the French. To increase the number of my 
division, to serve as an example to them, to 
change the ideas entertained respecting us, and to 
shew in what perfect good intelligence French and 
Americans may live together, I should request to 
take with me, at once, a battalion of six hundred 
grenadiers, three hundred dragoons, and one hun- 
dred hussars. 

Two or three officers, whom I should bring back 
with me, must obtain the same rank in France 
which they had in America, and I should say that I 
have refused that rank myself from motives which 
are purely social. This attention is necessary to 
flatter the self-love of the Americans. We may 
stop at Bermuda on our way, and establish there 
the party for liberty. 

I shall set out on Wednesday for Nantes, where 
the clothes are making ; I shall also attend to the 
selection of the arms ; I shall see the king's regi- 

1779, 1780, 1781. 317 

ment at Angers, to form a detachment from it ; I 
shall repair to Lorient to hasten the arrangement of 
the frigates, and to see the battalion of grenadiers ; 
I shall only be here the 20th, and as my departure 
must be public, I shall take leave the 25th, in an 
American uniform, and if the wind be favourable, 
I shall sail the 1st of March. 

As it is physically impossible that a detachment 
commanded by a foreigner should amalgamate to- 
gether well, I believe it would be necessary to 
increase it by a battalion, which would raise the 
number to about three thousand six hundred, and 
the grenadiers would remain more particularly 
attached to me during the campaign. 

If that little corps be given to an old field-mar- 
shal, we should certainly displease all the American 
chiefs. Gates, Sullivan, and Saint Clair, would not 
like to be under the orders of others, and their 
opinion in the council would be opposed to com- 
bined expeditions. I think it necessary, very ne- 
cessary, to select a brigadier, and name him field- 
marshal, which he would look upon as a promo- 
tion. The corps must consider itself as a division 
of our army ; its commander must abjure all pre- 
tensions, think himself an American major-general, 
and execute, in all respects, the orders of General 
Washington. The naval commander may have more 
power placed in his hands. 

Conclusion. 1st, I think it would be best to 
give me the corps. 2d, If it be not given to me, I 
must instantly set out with the powers I demand. 
In either case, it is, unfortunately, necessary to 
reveal to me the secret, and set me immediately to 

I shall have the honour, sir, of paying my respects 
to you during the procession. 




At the entrance of Boston harbour, April 27, 1780. 
HERE I am, my dear general, and, in the midst of 
the joy I feel in finding myself again one of your 
loving soldiers, I take but the time to tell you that 
I came from France on board a frigate which the 
king gave me for my passage. I have affairs of the 
utmost importance which I should at first com- 
municate to you alone. In case my letter finds you 
anywhere this side of Philadelphia, I beg you will 
wait for me, and do assure you a great public good 
may be derived from it. To-morrow we go up to the 
town, and the day after I shall set off in my usual 
way to joined my beloved and respected friend 
and general. 

Adieu, my dear general ; you will easily know the 
hand of your young soldier. 

My compliments to the family. 


Waterburg, on the Boston road, 

From the Camp, May 6th, 1780. 

I HAVE already had the honour of writing to you, 
sir, and of announcing to you the news of my ar- 
rival ; but I place so much confidence in the kind- 
ness you express for me, that I do not hesitate to 
repeat the contents of my former letter. It was the 

* The second of the measures discussed in the preceding 
letter was the one preferred, and M. de Lafayette embarked 
alone at the island of Aix. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 319 

28th of April, after a voyage of thirty-eight days, 
and after having experienced both calms and con- 
trary winds, that the Hermione entered the Boston 
harbour. I cannot sufficiently express my admira- 
tion of the frigate herself, and my gratitude to her 
commanding officers. 

I can neither give you any certain information, 
sir, nor promise you any degree of accuracy re- 
specting numbers and dates. General Washington 
can alone inform me of the truth ; but this does 
appear to me certain : 

Our army is not numerous ; the eastern states 
are occupied in recruiting it. Paper has been re- 
gulated by congress at forty for one : these are very 
high taxes, and they hope to be able to raise the 
finances a little, which are in a very low state ; but, 
at present, I cannot give you any settled ideas upon 
this point. 

The scarcity of horses, their price, and the want 
of provisions, have very much increased during my 
absence ; but I assure you, sir, that, in a moral 
point of view, I continue to see a most favourable 
prospect for my American friends. 

General Clinton has besieged Charlestown, and 
as he has eight or ten thousand men, and the report 
is spread that his vessels have crossed the bar, it is 
impossible not to fear for that place, unless Spanish 
or French vessels should come from the islands to 
its succour. Some troops from the army of Ge- 
neral Washington have proceeded thither. 

New York has only six or seven thousand gar- 
risoned men ; such is, at least, the public report, 
and I do not believe that the hostile forces are much 
more numerous at present. They say, at Boston, 
that there are only four thousand men ; but I re- 


peat, sir, that my gazettes cannot be at all accurate 
at present. 

The English have but few vessels at Charlestown ; 
at most they have only, I think, one or two at New 
York. It is said here, and every one seems to be- 
lieve it, that if some French forces were to arrive at 
this moment, they might strike some decisive blows. 

Be pleased, sir, to accept the assurance of the 
warm and respectful affection with which I have the 
honour to be, &c. 

P.S. Some American officers, just come from 
New York, assure me that a frigate has arrived 
with important despatches from the English govern- 
ment. Don Juan de Miralles, who has been long 
established at Philadelphia, and who knows M. 
d'Aranda, died at Morristown ; he was buried with 
much honour. 


Morristown, May, 1783. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, Your welcome favour of the 
27th of April came to my hands yesterday. I re- 
ceived it with all the joy that the sincerest friend- 
ship would dictate, and with that impatience 
which an ardent desire to see you could not fail 
to inspire. I am sorry I do not know your route 
through the State of New York, that I might 
with certainty send a small party of horse, all I have 
at this place, to meet and escort you safely through 
the Tory settlements, between this place and the 
North River. At all events, Major Gibbs will go as 
far as Compton, where the roads unite, to meet you 

1779, 1780, 1781, 321 

and will proceed from thence, as circumstances may 
direct, either towards King's Ferry or New Windsor. 
I most sincerely congratulate you on your safe ar- 
rival in America, and shall embrace you with all 
the warmth of an affectionate friend, when you 
come to head-quarters, where a bed is prepared for 
you, Adieu till we meet. Yours, &c.* 


Philadelphia, 19th May, 1780* 

SIR, This letter will be handed to you by M. de 
Gal van, a French officer in the service of the United 
States, and you may receive with confidence the 
various accounts which he will have the honour to 
give you. I have appointed him to await your 
arrival at Cape Henry, and you will see that my 
instructions to this officer are in conformity with 

* General Washington expressed, in several letters, the plea- 
sure he felt at M. de Lafayette's return. (See his letters of 
the 13th and 14th of May.) The 16th of May, the congress 
declared, by a public resolution, that "they consider his return 
as a fresh proof of the disinterested zeal and persevering at- 
tachment which have justly recommended him to the public 
confidence and applause, and that they receive with pleasure a 
tender of the further services of so gallant and meritorious an 
officer." (Journal of Congress, May 20th.) 

It was afterwards resolved that the commander-in-chief, after 
having received the communications M. de Lafayette had to 
make to him, was to take the proper measures which were most 
likely to forward the success of the plan they had in view. The 
communications related to the expected arrival of a French 
squadron and land forces. The plan in contemplation was to 
make some attacks, especially on New York. 
VOL. I. Y 


those which I have received from the Count de 

I reached Boston on the 26th of April. On the 
morning of the 10th of May, I was at head-quarters, 
and after passing four days with General Washing- 
ton, I went to meet the Chevalier de la Luzerne. 
The military preparations and the political measures 
which it was necessary for us to attend to, have 
delayed M. de Galvan up to the present moment. 
I now hasten to despatch him to his destination, and 
shall keep him informed of whatever news may be 
interesting to you, continuing to add the ideas of 
the general, with regard to the best means of im- 
proving present circumstances. 

Immediately upon my arrival, confidential per- 
sons were sent out to procure plans and details- 
upon the different points which become interesting 
for the operations of this campaign. As to other 
matters, the Chevalier de la Luzerne has had the 
goodness to enable me, as far as possible, to fulfil 
my instructions, and he has taken the first measures 
requisite to procure a supply of food and other 

* The instructions given to M. de Lafayette by the minister 
of foreign affairs, (5th March, 1780,) were, that, to prevent 
any mistake or delay, he was to place, both on Rhode Island 
and on Cape Henry (the mouth of the Chesapeake), a French 
officer, to await the arrival of the French squadron, which was 
to land at one of those two points, and to give it all the infor- 
mation it might require on its arrival. This letter was conse- 
quently given to M. de Galvan, and he repaired to Cape 
Henry, but vainly expecffed those frigates: they landed at 
Rhode Island. They left Brest the 2nd of May, under the 
orders of the Chevalier de Ternay, and appeared before New- 
port the 10th of July. This letter was delivered afterwards to 
M. de Rochambeau, as well as several others, which want of 
space and interest do not allow us to insert. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 323 

necessaries for the land and naval forces. Although 
the scarcity of all things is infinitely greater than 
when I left America, the precautions taken before- 
hand hy the Chevalier de la Luzerne, and the mea- 
sures we are now taking here, render it certain that 
the French will not be in want, either of flour or of 
fresh meat, 

I will now give you a summary of the present 
situation of the enemy on the continent. I shall 
say nothing of Canada, or Halifax, or the Penobscot, 
from whence we are expecting news, and which, for 
the moment, are not of essential importance. Rhode 
Island is in our possession ; you can enter there in 
full security; letterSj signals, and pilots will await 
you there, agreeably to my instructions. Your 
magazines, your sick, and all your unnecessary 
baggage, can go up the Providence by water ; I shall 
soon send to Rhode Island more particular infor- 
mation on this point, 

The enemy have, at the present moment, seven 
thousand men of their best troops employed at the 
siege of Charlestown ; they have also some ships of 
the line without the harbour one vessel of fifty 
guns, two frigates of forty-four, and several smaller 
vessels. According to news from New York, 
Charlestown still held out on the 3rd of this month. 
On the Islands of New York, Long Island, and 
Staten Island, the forces of the enemy consisted of 
eight thousand regular troops, a few militia, upon 
which they place no dependence, and a small num- 
ber of royalists, very contemptible in all respects. 
They have only one ship of seventy-four guns, and 
some frigates. The American army is in three di- 
visions ; one guards the fort of West Point and 
keeps open the North River ; another is in South 
Carolina j and the third, which is the largest, is in 

Y 2 


the Jerseys, under the immediate command of 
General Washington. This last division, not very 
numerous at present, will be increased in a few 
days ; and for that reason, I shall defer till another 
letter giving you a more exact account of its situa- 

Your voyage is known at New York. Advices 
were immediately sent on to Charlestown, recalling 
either the troops, or at least the ships of war. They 
are erecting fortifications on the Island, and pre- 
paring vessels loaded with stones to obstruct the 
passage ; in a word, if it be true that the present 
divided state of the English forces seems to insure 
their destruction, and to promise us the conquest 
of New York, it is equally true that, at the moment 
of your arrival, if by good fortune things remain in 
their present state, we shall have no time to lose in 
taking advantage of those favourable circumstances. 

At the same time that I here execute the orders 
of my general, and communicate to you the senti- 
ments of my friend, permit me to assure you of the 
strong desire of our army to do whatever may please 
you, and how much we shall all endeavour to merit 
the friendship and the esteem of troops, whose 
assistance at the present moment is so essential to 
us. You will find amongst us a great deal of good 
will, a great deal of sincerity, and above all, a great 
desire to be agreeable to you. 

I send a duplicate of this letter to the Chevalier 
de Ternay, and I shall send the same to Point 
Judith and Seaconnet ; so that in case you should 
make land at Rhode Island, you may at once sail 
for Sandy Hook. The next letter which I shall have 
the honour to write to you, will be dated at head- 
quarters. The confidence of General Washington, 
which M. de Galvan has deserved, and the means 

1779, 1780, 1781. 325 

which he has of fulfilling his instructions, all assure 
me that you will be satisfied with our choice. I 
have the honour to be, &c. 


Camp at Preakness, July 4th, 1780. 
You know, my dear general, that I am very 
anxious to see the army well clothed for this cam- 
paign ; the importance of such a measure is on 
every account obvious, and from the knowledge I 
have of the auxiliary troops that are coming, I can 
so well demonstrate its necessity that I shall for the 
present but attend to the means of executing it. 

In the space of six months (we know from ex- 
perience) the coats of our soldiers begin to be worn 
out, so that there is no great inconvenience in 
giving some new clothes to the draftsmen, and 
after they shall be discharged, the number of the 
remaining soldiers will not much exceed six or 
seven thousand men ; as those very men will have 
been completely clothed by the middle of July, I 
think I make full allowance for them by keeping in 
store the seven thousand unmade suits that have 
been shipped by Mr. Ross. 

If more are wanted in the course of next summer, 
I engage to go over to France and bring back ten 
thousand complete suits properly conveyed. 

Excluding wagoners, servants, and all such people 
who do not want to be uniformly clothed, we may 
calculate the continental army to consist of four- 
teen thousand men in the field. 


There may be found in the army four thousand 
coats and waistcoats which are not absolutely bad, 
four thousand stocks or cravats, and one thoasand 
pretty good hats, 

We may get from the stores fifteen thousand 
overalls, ten thousand pairs of shoes, three thousand 
round hats, and some few shirts. 

There are also six or seven hundred coats of 
every colour, to which may be added about three or 
four hundred of the same kind, and some indifferent 
hats found in the army, &c. 

A small quantity of buff and red cloth to be 
bought for the facings of the Pennsylvanian and 
Jersey tines. 

The four thousand good hats in the stores or in 
the army to be cut round, or cocked in the form of 
.caps, but to be in an uniform manner. 

All the articles now in the possession of the 
clothier-general, to be immediately ordered to North 
River, and, if necessary, wagons should be pressed 
for their speedy transportation. 

I will write a letter to the Chevalier de Ternay, 
wherein I will desire him to send to the most conve- 
nient place the clothing which has been put under 
his convoy. 

We shall then have ten thousand new coats and 
waistcoats, and four thousand old ones, the whole 
of an uniform ground, ten thousand new hats and 
stocks, and four thousand old ones, five and twenty 
thousand overalls, more than twenty thousand shirts, 
and thirty thousand pairs of shoes. 

Each soldier enlisted for the war, let them even be 
ten thousand, shall have, if you choose, a new com- 
plete suit, one hat, one stock, two shirts, two pairs 
x)f overalls, and two pairs of shoes. 

Each draftsman, if he has not the same, will at 

1779, 1780, 1781, 327 

least receive a decent uniform coat, one stock, one 
hat, one pair of overalls, and two pairs of shoes ; 
he will not certainly come out but well provided 
with shirts. 

By the above mentioned arrangement, there re- 
main about a thousand coats of every colour, a thou- 
sand hats, which are not absolutely bad, and two 
thousand pairs of shoes ; these I propose to give 
to such men as will not appear under arms in the 
field, and, if necessary, some hunting-shirts may be 
added to the said clothing. 

The dragoons are generally better clothed than 
the infantry, and we might very easily complete 
their coats or stable-jackets, as each different regi- 
ment could adopt a different colour, 

As soon as the French clothing comes, I wish 
the whole army to be clothed at once, in ob- 
serving to give the round hats to some particular 
brigades, for the sake of uniformity, and to turn up 
the facings according to the plan agreed. 

There will be then no excuse for the officers who, 
out of neglect, should suffer their men to lose a 
single article, and the most strict orders may be 
given for that purpose. 

The French arms that are coming might be put 
in the hands of soldiers enlisted for the war, 

I wish that there was a distinction of one woollen 
epaulette for the corporal, and two for the Serjeant. 

As to the feathers, (become a distinction of ranks,) 
I wish such as have been pointed out might be for- 
bidden to other officers, and for the light division I 
shall beg the leave of wearing a black and red feather, 
which I have imported for the purpose. 

These ideas, my dear general, are not given to 
you as a great stroke of genius, but I heartily wish 
something of the kind may be thought proper. 



Camp, before Dobb's Ferry, Aug. 9, 1780. 

GENTLEMEN, I arrived two days ago at head quar- 
ters, and in consequence of the mission I was 
. charged with, my first care was to render an account 
of our conversations ; but the most minute details of 
them are so important, and the fate of America, and 
the glory of France, depend so completely upon the 
result of our combinations here, that, in order to feel 
more certain of having perfectly understood your 
meaning, I will submit to you a summary of our 
conversations, and entreat you to write me word 

* General Heath, who commanded the militia in the state of 
Rhode Island, announced, on the 13th of July, the arrival of 
the French squadron to Washington, who was then stationed 
with his staff at Bergen. M. de Lafayette set out instantly, 
bearing instructions from the general-in-chief dated the 15th, 
to meet the French Generals and to concert with them. Wash- 
ington had long formed a plan of offensive operations, for the 
reduction of the town and garrison of New York (letter to 
General Greene the 14th of July) ; this plan was to take effect 
on condition, first, that the French and American troops should 
form a junction ; second, that the French should have a decided 
naval superiority over the united forces of Admiral Graves and 
Admiral Arbuthnot. In nine letters, written between the 20th 
of July and the 1st of August, which would not perhaps have 
offered much interest to the reader, M. de Lafayette rendered 
an account of his mission, of which a short analysis will give 
the principal details. 

The first letters relate to the multiplied difficulties he encoun- 
tered in the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island, in collect- 
ing provisions, clothing, arms, and, above all, powder, in sufficient 
quantities for the projected expedition. These difficulties were 
much increased by the insufficiency of every kind of munition 
brought by the French squadron, which but half realized the 
promises of the French cabinet. M. de Lafayette repaired to 
Newport the 25th, and found the army, which had been disem- 

1779, 1780, 1781 329 

immediately whether I have rightly understood your 
meaning. Before quitting Rhode Island, gentlemen, 
I should have taken this precaution, if General 
Washington's march against New York had not 
obliged me to join my division, at the very moment 
when, from our further arrangements, you most 
required some information. 

1st. I have described to you the actual situation 
of America, the exhausted state in which I found 
her, and the momentary efforts she had made, which 
could only have been produced by the hope of being 
delivered, by one decisive blow, from the tyranny of 
the English. 

I told you those efforts were so enormous, when 
we consider the state of our finances, and the failure 

barked, encamped in Rhode Island, and M. de Rochambeau 
much occupied by the news of an important attack, and, in fact, 
four of the enemy's ships appeared on the 19th, and nine or ten 
more two days after, before Block Island. Sir Henry Clinton 
had on his side left New York. Ey a combination of his la.nd 
and sea forces, he intended to surprise the French army. But 
he experienced some delay ; his soldiers could only embark in 
the transports the 27th ; there was a wrong understanding be- 
tween him and Admiral Arbuthnot. He learnt that the French 
had fortified themselves at Newport, and that the neighbouring 
militia had joined them ; and at length that General Washington 
was making a rapid movement upon New York. He hastened 
to pass over the Sound, and landed his troops on the 31st. 

M. de Lafayette, who had always felt doubtful, himself, of 
Clinton's making the attack, had then the opportunity of dis- 
cussing with the allies the project for an offensive operation. 
He was extremely anxious to put it into execution, and General 
Washington was desirous also of doing the same. 

The thing was, however, difficult. Although the capture of New 
York had always been one of the objects of the French minis- 
try, the instructions of M. de Rochambeau prescribed to him to 
attach great importance to the station of Rhode Island, and to 
endeavour to make it the basis for his other operations. He was 
therefore reluctant to quit it in order to march upon New York. 
M. de Ternay, at the same time, considered it as impossible to 


of all our resources, that I do not expect to see them 
renewed during another campaign. I added that on 
the 1st of November we should no longer have any 
militia, that the 1st of January one half of our con- 
tinental army would be disbanded, and I took the 
liberty of saying, in my own name, that I thought 
it necessary, as a political measure, to enter into 
action this campaign; and this I had ascertained 
also to be the case, by sounding, on my journey, the 
wishes of the people. 

2nd. I confirmed what I have already had the 
honour of writing to you respecting the continental 
troops, and the militia whom we are to have with 
us. I told you that by counting the enemies in New 
York at fourteen thousand men, of which ten thou- 
sand are regulars, and four thousand very bad militia, 
I thought their numbers were somewhat exaggerated, 

enter with his ships of war into the harbour of that town, and 
contented himself with promising a blockade ; he did not, be- 
sides, possess that naval superiority which could only be ob- 
tained by the arrival of the second division, which was so vainly 
expected from France, or by the junction of the squadron of 
M. de Guichen, then in the West Indies, to whom M. de La- 
fayette had written to promote that object. M. de Rocham- 
beau's own opinion was, however, in favour of offensive mea- 
sures, and he promised to conform, according to his instructions, 
to the orders of the general-in-chief. Everything was dis- 
cussed and regulated in two or three conferences, which took 
place from the end of July to the commencement of August, 
between MM. de Rochambeau, de Ternay, and de Lafayette. 
The result of these conferences is resumed in a letter, to which 
is annexed this note 

In the suppressed letters it is also seen that the French troops 
evinced the greatest ardour, and that the good intelligence that 
reigned between the two allies completely justified the expec- 
tations of M. de Lafayette, and the measures he had proposed. 
He wrote, in a letter of the 31st, to General Washington : 

" The French army hate the idea of staying here, and want 
to join you. They swear at those that speak of waiting the second 

i779, 1780, 1781. 331 

and that it was necessary to begin by deducting the 
sailors employed by Admiral Arbuthnot. As to the 
fortifications, I said that the American troops would 
take charge of New York, and that the fort of 
Brooklyn (upon which you might operate in concert 
with a division of our troops) is merely an earthen 
work of four bastions, with a ditch and a shed, con- 
taining from a thousand to fifteen hundred men, and 
having in front another smaller work, which cannot 
contain more than a hundred men. I added that 
nothing could prevent a regular approach upon 
Brooklyn, and that that post is the key of New York. 
3rd. I explained to you General Washington's 
plan, and told you that the moment you began your 
march, he would repair to Morrisania, where, J 
again repeat, he would establish batteries that would 
close the passage of Hell's Gate, and secure the one 

division : they are enraged to be blockaded in this harbour. As 
to their dispositions towards the inhabitants and our troops, and 
the dispositions of the inhabitants and the militia for them, they 
are such as I may wish. You would have been glad the other day 
to see two hundred and fifty of our drafts that came on from 
Connanicut, without provisions and tents, and who were mixed 
in such a way with the French troops, that every French soldier 
and officer took an American with him, and divided his bed and 
his supper in the most friendly manner. The patience and 
sobriety of our militia are so much admired by the French 
officers, that, two days ago, a French colonel called all his 
officers together, to take the good examples which were given 
to the French soldiers by the American troops. So far are 
they gone in their admiration, that they find a great deal to say 
in favour of General Vamum, and his escort of militia dragoons, 
who fill up all the streets of Newport. On the other hand, the 
French discipline is such, that chickens and pigs walk between 
the tents without being disturbed, and that there is in the camp 
a corn-field, of which not one leaf has been touched. The Tories 
dont know what to say to it." (ORIGINAL.) (Letters of Waxh- 
ington from the 14th of July to tJie 5th of August, 1780, and 
Appendix t Nos. 1 and 8, VOL. vn.) 


from the continent to Long Island, so as to have 
nothing to fear from the enemy's ships. Whilst 
awaiting your arrival, gentlemen, our army would 
entrench itself at Morrisania, or, if possible, on the 
Island of New York, and would place itself in a 
situation to detach a corps of troops, as soon as you 
shall have approached us, either by coming by 
land to Westchester, and passing afterwards under 
favour of our batteries, or by repairing by sea to 
Wistown, or any other bay in that neighbourhood. 
General Washington would furnish a sufficient corps 
of Americans, and fifteen large cannon, to co- 
operate with your troops, and he believes that with 
these forces, and united with artillery, the point of 
Brooklyn might soon be taken, and consequently 
the town of New York. 

4th. I represented to you that Long Island was a 
rich country, which, even after the destruction 
effected by the English, still possesses some re- 
sources ; that we might feel certain of being joined 
there by the militia of the island ; and, in short, 
that with the assistance of our Morrisanian under- 
batteries, and still more with a battery on the Island 
of New York, we should assure the communication 
between Long Island and the continent. From these 
various circumstances, my own private opinion 
would decidedly be to commence our action, if the 
fleet could be placed in security, before we pos- 
sessed any superiority of naval force. 

5th. I strongly insisted upon the necessity of 
taking possession, as soon as possible, of the New 
York harbour. I requested M. de Ternay to ex- 
amine that point with the pilots I gave him, and by 
the immense advantages of that measure I hoped 
that, either with the aid of land forces on the side 
of Sandy Hook, or merely by the superiority of his 

1779, 1780, 1781. 333 

own naval force, he would be enabled to accomplish 
the object we had feared his attempting when we 
expected him with Admiral Graves. 

6th. When proposing to you to send your maga- 
zines to Providence, I told you that Rhode Island 
was completely useless to the Americans, but very 
important for the succours arriving from France, 
in case, however, no army should be necessary 
to preserve it ; that if the English were to commit 
the fault of taking it, a superior fleet, aided by 
forces from the continent, would always have the 
power of retaking it. 

7th. I ended by having the honour of telling you, 
gentlemen, that in order to operate upon New York 
it would be necessary not to commence later than 
the first days of September ; and, after this explana- 
tion, I said that General Washington, feeling the 
most perfect confidence in you, was very desirous 
of having your opinion upon the subject, and would 
only undertake what might appear to you most ad- 

This, gentlemen, is what I had the honour of 
saying to you, and this is what you did me the ho- 
nour to reply to : 

1st. That the succour sent to the United States 
was anything rather than trifling ; that the second 
division was to set out a short time after you, and 
that it might justly be expected every instant ; that 
it would consist at least of two thousand five hun- 
dred, and, in all probability, of a still greater number 
of troops ; that it was to be sent by three ships, but 
that, according to all appearances, a larger number 
of vessels would be granted ; that the only reason 
which could prevent its arriving before the 1st of 
September, would be the impossibility of a junction 
between the French and Spanish fleets, and that, in 


the latter case, it would arrive, at farthest, by the end 
of autumn, and would then be a great deal stronger ; 
that M. de Guichen has been apprised of our pro- 
jects, and has received the order to facilitate them ; 
that, consequently, the Chevalier de Ternay has 
written to him for the five promised vessels ; and 
that, from all these circumstances, you hoped to be 
able to act before the end of the campaign, but did 
not doubt, at least, having the power of furnishing 
us with very superior forces for this winter, and for 
the next campaign. 

2nd. The project of attacking Brooklyn was ex- 
tremely agreeable to you, and appeared to you the 
most proper measure for the reduction of New 
York ; but you think that we ought to have upon 
that Island a force at least equal to that which the 
enemy may offer us, and you added that by leaving 
a counterfeit at New York, they may fall on the 
corps of Long Island, with nearly their whole army, 
which contingency, you will perceive, had been, 
already provided for by Washington's arrangements. 

3rd. You appeared to me doubtful whether it 
would be possible to stop the enemy at the passage 
of Morrisania, but on this point I can give you no 
decisive information. The idea of repairing by land 
to Westchester appeared less agreeable to you than 
that of going by sea into a bay of Long Island. As 
to the landing, the Count de Rochambeau looks 
upon it as a very long operation, and, from his own 
experience on the subject, he believes that it would 
require nearly three weeks to land an army, with all 
its accoutrements, for a campaign and siege. You 
desired to have every possible information concern- 
ing Brooklyn, in order to be able to make calcula- 
tions accordingly for the artillery and engineer 

1779, 1780, 1781. 335 

You appeared to me to consider a naval supe* 
riority as necessary, even at the commencement of 
the campaign ; but it is true that this idea may 
partly proceed from your doubts relating to the 
communication concerning Morrisania. 

5th. The Chevalier de Ternay conceives it would 
be difficult to take possession of New York har- 
bour, and hopes to accomplish the same object by 
the situation in which he has placed his cruisers. 
He does not think that his seventy-fours can enter, 
but from the difference of opinion which I ventured 
to express, as to the importance at least of occupy- 
ing the harbour, he told me he would again attend 
to this project. As to his manner of protecting the 
disembarkation, it would be to cruise in the Sound, 
and his frigates, and one or two vessels, would enter 
into the bay at the place where the troops should 

6th. Rhode Island appears to you a very important 
point to preserve ; but if M. de Ternay should have 
the superiority, you think, as we do, that it would 
be unnecessary to leave a garrison there during the 
attack of New York. The Count de Rochambeau 
desired me to assure General Washington that, in 
every case, upon receiving an order, he would 
instantly repair to that spot which the commander- 
in-chief should appoint. I told him, also, that the 
French generals wished that it were possible to have 
an interview with him. 

At the termination of our conversation, we 
decided upon the following measures, of which I 
consequently gave an account to General Wash- 

1st. You have written to France to urge the 
speedy arrival and augmentation of the promised 
succours. You have already asked for the five 


vessels of M. de Guichen, and 1 have also taken 
charge of another letter, which repeats the same 
request, and which will pass through the hands of 
the Chevalier de la Luzerne. 

2d. As soon as you receive news of the arrival 
either of the second division or of the ships from 
the West Indies, you will immediately despatch a 
messenger to General Washington ; and, whilst our 
army is marching towards Westchester, and your 
own making preparation for embarkation, M. de 
Ternay will endeavour to effect his junction. 

3d. If the French fleet should be equal to that 
of the enemy, it will immediately enter into a 
contest for superiority ; if it should be superior, it 
will take the French troops instantly on board, 
and carry them towards the bay intended for their 

4th. A spot shall be chosen from whence the 
ships may protect the operation, and which will also 
afford to the troops first landed a position well 
sheltered by the fire from the ships, and behind 
which the remainder of the troops may join them ; 
or by advancing with all the landed troops, the right 
and left wings may be so placed as to cover the last 
of the disembarkation. The spot selected shall be 
situated in such a manner that the corps of the 
American army intended for this particular expe- 
dition, may arrive and land at the very moment of 
the landing of the Count de Rochambeau, and that 
their general may be able to co-operate instantly 
with the French general. 

5th. According to the number of French troops 
in a state to operate, General Washington will 
either conduct himself, or send to Long Island, a 
sufficient number of troops to obtain a force nearly 
equal to that of the enemy, and he will also have a 

1779, 1780, 1781. 337 

corps of troops of nearly the same strength as the 
one opposed to him, either at Westchester or in the 
Island of New York. 

6th. The Chevalier de Ternay will examine, atten- 
tively, the possibility of forcing the passage of 
Sandy Hook, and if it be deemed practicable, will 
attain that important end. 

7th. As soon as the arms, clothes, and ammu- 
nition, belonging to the United States, shall arrive, 
the Chevalier de Ternay will have the goodness, 
without giving them time to enter the harbour, to 
send them with a convoy of frigates, or, if the bat- 
teries be not yet erected, by a ship of the line, to 
that point in the Sound which General Washington 
may judge proper to select. 

8th. The French fleet will take charge of the 
boats we shall require, which will be delivered up to 
them at Providence ; they will also land us all the 
powder that they can do without themselves ; this 
does not amount, at present, to more than thirty 
thousand pounds. 

9th. I shall send to the French generals all the 
correct information I may obtain respecting the 
passage of the Sound by Hell Gate ; I shall commu- 
nicate to them, likewise, all the details relating to 
Brooklyn, and they will send us the calculations 
which have been made in consequence by the artil- 
lery and engineers, from thence we shall decide 
what must be sent with the American Long Island 
corps for these two companies. Some doubts are 
entertained by the French generals concerning the 
two points of this last article ; I shall send them 
from home some information respecting that subject, 
of which I had before the honour of speaking to 

10th. The invalids, magazines, &c., shall be sent 

VOL. I. Z 


to Providence, and the batteries of that river are to 
be placed by us in proper order. It is clearly 
specified that the instant the expected naval supe- 
riority of force arrives, the French are not to lose 
a single day in commencing their co-operative 

Such is, gentlemen, the abridgment of the ac- 
count rendered to General Washington ; and it will 
serve as the basis for his preparations, as well as a 
rule for the future elucidations you may receive. 
From the confidence with which he has honoured 
me, I was obliged to settle finally all that it was 
possible for me to arrange with you, the fate 
of America, in short, appears to be dependent upon 
your activity or repose during the remainder of this 
summer. I attach the greatest importance to all 
your ideas being clearly rendered, and I entreat you 
to lose no time in writing a few words to say 
whether I have understood your meaning. 

A short time after my departure, gentlemen, you 
must have learnt that General Clinton, fearing for 
New York, had been obliged, by a sudden move- 
ment of our army, to enclose himself in that island. 
The army is at present near Dobb's Ferry, ten miles 
above King's Bridge, on the right side of the North 
River, and our advance guard is nearly three miles 
before it. 

If General Clinton, with a force and position 
equal to our own, should judge proper to fight, we 
shall give him a favourable opportunity of doing so, 
and he may take advantage of that kind of chal- 
lenge to make the most impartial trial of the Eng- 
lish and Hessian against the American troops. 

I shall wait here, most impatiently, gentlemen, 
your answer to this letter. I shall have the honour 
of communicating to you the various advices General 

1779, 1780, 1781. 339 

Washington may find it expedient to send you. 
The first intelligence of the arrival of the ships is 
very necessary to our peace of mind, and from an 
intimate knowledge of our situation, I assure you, 
gentlemen, in my own private name and person, 
that it is important to act during this campaign, 
that all the troops you may hope to obtain from 
France next year, as well as all the projects of which 
you may flatter yourselves, will never repair the 
fatal consequences of our present inactivity. With- 
out resources in America, all foreign succours 
would prove of no avail ; and although, in every 
case, you may rely wholly upon us, I think it im- 
portant to take advantage of the moment when you 
may find here a co-operation, without which you 
will not be able to achieve anything for the Ame- 
rican cause. 

I have the honour to be, &c. 

P.S. Such, gentlemen, is the long official letter 
which I have the honour of writing to you, but I 
cannot send it without thanking you for the kind- 
ness you expressed for me at Rhode Island, and 
presenting you the assurance of my sincere and 
respectful attachment. 


Newport, August 12th, 1780. 

I RECEIVED, my dear marquis, the letter you did 
me the honour of writing the 9th of August ; per- 
mit me to send you, in reply, the one I had the 
honour of addressing to our general on the 10th of 
this month, to express to him the opinion you 

z 2 


asked for by his desire. I am only now, therefore, 
waiting for his last orders, and I have earnestly re- 
quested him to grant me the favour of an interview, 
that the admiral and I may receive from his own 
lips the last plan he has decided upon ; we should 
do more in a quarter of an hour's conversation than 
we could do hy multiplied despatches. I am as 
thoroughly convinced as any person can be of the 
truth of what your letters mentioned, that it was his 
marching which had detained Clinton, who intended 
to come and attack us ; but I must observe to you 
also, at the same time, that there was much reason 
to hope that he would have been well beaten here, 
and during that time our general would have taken 
New York. As to your observation, my dear 
marquis, that the position of the French at Rhode 
Island is of no use to the Americans, I reply : 

First, That I never heard it had been injurious 
to any one of them. 

Second, That it would be well to reflect that the 
position of the French corps may have had some- 
thing to do with Clinton's evacuation of the con- 
tinent, when he has been obliged to confine himself 
to Long Island and New York ; that, in short, while 
the French fleet is guarded here by an assembled 
and a superior naval force, your American shores 
are undisturbed, your privateers are making con- 
siderable prizes, and your maritime commerce en- 
joys perfect liberty. It appears to me, that, in so 
comfortable a situation, it is easy to wait patiently 
the naval and land forces that the king assured me 
should be sent ; that, in short, as I have received 
no letter from France since my departure, I can 
only flatter myself that the second division is 
already on the road, and is bringing me despatches, 
since, if it had been blockaded by superior forces, 

1779, 1780, 1781. 341 

some sort of advice would have been sent me from 
the shores of France. I fear those savannahs and 
other events of the kind, of which I have seen so 
many during the course of my life. There exists a 
principle in war, as in geometry, vis unitafortior. I 
am, however, awaiting orders from our generalissimo, 
and I entreat him to grant the admiral and myself an 
interview. I will join the latter's despatch to this 
packet as soon as I receive it. 

I beg you to accept, my dear marquis, the as- 
surance of my sincerest affection. 


Camp, August 18th, 1780. 

GENTLEMEN, As I wish to submit the same ob- 
servations to you both, permit me to address this 
letter to you in common, and permit me also (with- 
out pretending to complain of the interpretation 
you have given to my last letter) to accuse myself 
of having explained my own meaning in a very 
awkward manner. 

On my return here, gentlemen, General Washing- 
ton asked me for an account of our conversations. 
You know that he had given me full powers to ex- 
plain to you our situation, and to settle finally the 
plan of the campaign. When he knew that you 
wished to confer with him, he again wrote me word 
that I was to arrange everything in his name, as if 
he were himself present. It was natural that he 
should wish to know what I said to you, what you 
replied, and what we had finally decided upon. He 
thought that the best manner of collecting our ideas 


was to write them down ; and I, fearing to say a 
single word that was not precisely according to 
your intentions, thought it more polite, more re- 
spectful towards you, to submit to your examination 
the written account which my general had re- 
quested. I may add, at this place, gentlemen, that 
the general, thinking that you were only acquainted 
with our position from what I had the honour of 
saying to you, did not consider the previous let- 
ters he had received as answers to what I had 
undertaken to explain to you. All that I said to 
you, gentlemen, concerning Rhode Island, the 
passage of Hell Gate, the harbour of New York, and 
the disembarkation, was from the reiterated orders 
of General Washington ; and as to the political 
opinions, which I will dispense myself with express- 
ing in future, because they must come from the 
Chevalier de la Luzerne, I assure you that if, as 
your own countryman, it was more delicate for me 
to give them in my own name, they are not less 
conformable to the ideas of General Washington. 
The only time when I took the liberty of speaking 
for myself was, when, wearied by the questions that 
have been made to me by a thousand American in- 
dividuals upon the second division, and the supe- 
riority of the English at this present period, I yielded 
to my ardent wish of entering at once on action, 
and to the hope of commencing our operations im- 
mediately. If I have been to blame, I think it can 
only be in this one instance. 

I believe that the march towards New York has 
recalled Clinton from the bay of Huntington, but I 
believe that if he had been guilty of the folly of 
attacking you, he would have both lost at Rhode 
Island a portion of his army, owing to our French 
troops, and the Island of New York by our attack. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 343 

This was my opinion, and the one I found most pre- 
valent here, and I also think that it is very unfor- 
tunate for the common cause that General Clinton 
did not pursue his enterprise. Is it I who could 
imagine the contrary ? I who have always been 
laughed at for thinking it impossible that the French 
could ever be beaten ! 

When, after having received three letters from 
General Washington, and held twenty conversa- 
tions with him on the subject, I thought it proper 
to tell you in what point of view we looked upon 
Rhode Island, I do not think it ever occurred to 
me to say you had injured any person by staying 
there, and as to the advantage America derives from 
having a French squadron and French troops, al- 
low me to mention, gentlemen, that M. d'Estaing 
found me formerly well disposed to acknowledge 
this truth ; that for more than eighteen months, 
and especially since the commencement of last sum- 
mer, I held a regular correspondence with the 
French government, to represent to it the utility of 
such a measure ; and, although the gratitude of the 
Americans does not by any means require being 
excited, few hours pass without my employing a 
part of my time in pointing out to them the advan- 
tages that you may procure for them even when in- 
ferior to the hostile forces, and in which I do not 
take the measures most proper to publish this truth 
from the extremity of Canada to that of Florida, as 
I may prove to you by the few copies of letters 
which I have preserved. - 

As to the political opinions with which I took the 
liberty of closing my letter, although I acknowledge 
having committed the fault of expressing them to 
you, I am certain beforehand that, from an in- 
timate acquaintance with the American character 


and resources, the Chevalier de la Luzerne and 
General Washington are both of my opinion. 

I will do all that depends upon me, gentlemen, 
to prevail upon the general to meet you half way ; 
but, from his proximity to the enemy, and from 
the present situation of the army, which he has 
never quitted since the commencement of the war, 
I fear it will appear to him very difficult to absent 
himself. Whenever you have any orders to give 
me, look upon me as a man who, you must well 
know, idolizes his own country with a peculiar de- 
gree of enthusiasm, and who unites to that feeling 
(the strongest one of his heart) the respectful affec- 
tion with which he has the honour of being, &c. 


Camp, August 18th, 1780. 

HAVING written, sir, one letter to you in common 
with the Chevalier de Ternay, permit me to address 
myself to you with the frankness authorised by the 
warm affection I have felt, and endeavoured to 
prove to you, from my earliest youth. Although 
your letter expresses your usual kindness for me, 
I observed a few sentences in it which, without 
being individually applied to me, prove to me that 
my last epistle displeased you. After having been 
engaged night and day for four months, in preparing 
the minds of the people to receive, respect, and 
love you ; after all I have said to make them sensi- 
ble of the advantages they derived from your resi- 
dence at Rhode Island, and after having made use 
of my own popularity to propagate this truth ; in 
short, sir, after all that my patriotism and affection 

1779, 1780, 1781. 345 

for you have dictated to me, my feelings were un- 
avoidably hurt by your giving such an unfavourable 
turn to my letter, and one which had never for a 
moment occurred to myself. If in that letter I have 
offended or displeased you ; if, for example, you 
disapprove of that written account which General 
Washington asked for, and which I thought I ought 
to submit to you, I give you my word of honour 
that I thought I was doing a very simple thing ; so 
simple, indeed, that I should have considered I was 
wronging you by not doing it. 

If you had heard that second division spoken of, 
sir, as I have done ; if you knew how strongly the 
English and the Tories endeavour to persuade the 
Americans that France only wishes to kindle, with- 
out extinguishing the flame, you would readily con- 
ceive that my desire of silencing those reports 
might have inspired me, perhaps, with too much 
warmth. I will confide to you that, thus placed in 
a foreign country, my self-love is wounded by seeing 
the French blockaded at Rhode Island, and the pain 
I feel induces me to wish the operations to com- 
mence. As to what you write to me, sir, respect- 
ing Rhode Island, if I were to give you an account 
of all I have said, written, and inserted in the public 
papers ; if you had heard me, frequently in the midst 
of a group of American peasants, relating the conduct 
of the French at Newport ; if you were only to pass 
three days here with me, you would see the injus- 
tice of your reproach. 

If I have offended you, I ask your pardon, for 
two reasons ; first, because I am sincerely attached 
to you ; and secondly, because it is my earnest wish 
to do everything I can to please you here. As a 
private individual, in all places your commands will 


ever be laws to me, and for the meanest French- 
man here I would make every possible sacrifice 
rather than not contribute to their glory, comfort, 
and union with the Americans. Such, sir, are my 
feelings, and although you have imagined some 
which are very foreign to my heart, I forget that 
injustice to think only of my sincere attachment to 

P. S. I am far from thinking, sir, that I am in 
any degree the cause of the sentiments that are ex- 
perienced in this country for yourself and the 
officers of your army. I am not so vain as to have 
entertained such an idea ; but I have had the ad- 
vantage of knowing you, and I was, therefore, able 
to foresee what would occur on your arrival, and to 
circulate the opinions adopted by all those who 
have personally known you. I am convinced, and 
no one here can deny it, that but for your arrival, 
American affairs would have gone on badly this 
campaign ; but, in our present situation, this alone 
is not sufficient, and it is important to gain advan- 
tages over the enemy. Believe, that when I wrote 
in my own name, that opinion did not belong to my- 
self alone ; my only fault was writing with warmth, 
in an official manner, that which you would have 
forgiven on account of my youth, if I had addressed 
it as a friend to yourself alone ; but my intentions 
were so pure, that I was as much surprised as 
pained by your letter, and that is saying a great 

1779, 1780, 1781. 347 


Newport, August 27th, 1780. 

PERMIT an aged father, my dear marquis, to reply 
to you as he would do to a son whom he tenderly 
loves and esteems. You know me well enough to 
feel convinced that I do not require being excited, 
that when I, at my age, formed a resolution founded 
upon military and state reasons, and supported by 
circumstances, no possible instigation can induce 
me to change my mind without a positive order 
from my general. I am happy to say that his de- 
spatches, on the contrary, inform me that my ideas 
correspond substantially with his own, as to all 
those points which would allow us to turn this into 
an offensive operation, and that we only differ in 
relation to some small details, on which a slight ex- 
planation, or his commands, would suffice to remove 
all difficulties in an instant. As a Frenchman, you 
feel humiliated, my dear friend, at seeing an English 
squadron blockading in this country, with a decided 
superiority of frigates and ships, the Chevalier 
de Ternay's squadron ; but console yourself, my 
dear marquis, the port of Brest has been blockaded 
for two months by an English fleet, and this is what 
prevents the second division from setting out under 
the escort of M. de Bougainville. If you had made 
the two last wars, you would have heard nothing 
spoken of but these same blockades ; I hope that 
M. de Guichen, on one side, and M. de Gas ton, on 
the other, will revenge us for these momentary 

It is always right, my dear marquis, to believe 
that Frenchmen are invincible ; but I, after an ex- 
perience of forty years, am going to confide a great 


secret to you : there are no men more easily beaten 
when they have lost confidence in their chiefs, and 
they lose it instantly when their lives have been 
compromised, owing to any private or personal 
ambition. If I have been so fortunate as to have 
retained their confidence until the present moment, 
I may declare, upon the most scrupulous examina- 
tion of my own conscience, that I owe it entirely 
to this fact, that, of about fifteen thousand men who 
have been killed or wounded under my command, 
of various ranks, and in the most bloody actions, I 
have not to reproach myself with having caused 
the death of a single man for my own personal 

You wrote to the Chevalier de Chastellux, my 
dear marquis, that the interview I requested of our 
general has embarrassed him, because it only be- 
comes necessary after the arrival of the second 
division, when there will be quite time enough to 
act. But you must surely have forgotten that I 
have unceasingly requested that interview imme- 
diately, and that it is absolutely necessary that he, 
the admiral, and I, should concert together all 
our projects and details, that in case one of the 
three chances should occur and enable us to act 
offensively, our movements may be prompt and 
decisive. In either of these three cases, my dear 
marquis, you will find in your old prudent father 
some remnants of vigour and activity. Be ever 
convinced of my sincere affection, and that if I 
pointed out to you very gently what displeased me 
in your last despatch, I felt at the time convinced 
that the warmth of your heart had somewhat im- 
paired the coolness of your judgment. Retain that 
latter quality in the council-room, and reserve all 

1779, 1780, 1781. 349 

the former for the hour of action. It is always the 
aged father, Rochambeau, who is addressing his 
dear son Lafayette, whom he loves, and will ever 
love and esteem until his latest breath. 


Robinson House, opposite W. Point, Sept. 26, 1780. 
WHEN I parted from you yesterday, sir, to come 
and breakfast here with General Arnold, we were 
far from foreseeing the event which I am now going 
to relate to you.* You will shudder at the danger 
to which we have been exposed ; you will admire 
the miraculous chain of unexpected events and sin- 
gular chances that have saved us ; but you will be 

* The project of an expedition against New York had not 
been abandoned : it was still canvassed by letter. General 
Washington agreed with the French generals as to the neces- 
sity of waiting for a naval reinforcement. The latter insisted 
upon having a conference with the General and M. de La- 
fayette. (See especially Washington's Letter of the 21st 
August, vol. vii. p. 169.) That long deferred conference was 
at length granted, and it was fixed that it should take place at 
Hartford (Connecticut). Washington left his army the 18th 
of September. It will be recollected that it was his interview 
with Arnold at the passage of the Hudson, that induced the 
latter to take the steps which led to the discovery of the con- 
spiracy. (See above.) Some days after, M. de Rochambeau 
wrote thus to M. de Lafayette : 

" Providence has declared itself for us, my dear marquis, 
and that important interview, which I have so long wished for, 
and which has given me so much pleasure, has been crowned 
by a peculiar mark of the favour of Heaven. The Chevalier 
de la Luzerne has not yet arrived ; I took the liberty of open- 
ing your letter to him, in which I found all the details of that 
horrible conspiracy, and I am penetrated with mingled feelings, 
of grief at the event itself, and joy at its discovery. 


still more astonished when you learn by what in- 
struments this conspiracy has been formed. West 
Point was sold and sold by Arnold : the same 
man who formerly acquired glory by rendering such 
immense services to his country. He had lately en- 
tered into a horrible compact with the enemy, and 
but for the accident that brought us here at a certain 
hour, but for the combination of chances that threw 
the adjutant-general of the English army in the 
hands of some peasants, beyond the limits of our 
stations, West Point and the North River, we should 
both at present, in all probability, be in possession 
of the enemy. 

When we set out yesterday for Fishkill, we were 
preceded by one of my aides-de-camp, and one of 
General Knox's, who found General Arnold and his 
wife at breakfast, and sat flown at table with them. 
Whilst they were together, two letters were given 
to Arnold, which apprised him of the arrestration of 
the spy. He ordered a horse to be saddled, went 
into his wife's room to tell her he was ruined, and 
desired his aide-de-camp to inform General Wash- 
ington that he was going to West Point and would 
return in the course of an hour. 

On our arrival here, we crossed the river and 
went to examine the works. You may conceive 
our astonishment when we learnt, on our return, that 
the arrested spy was Major Andre, adjutant-general 
of the English army ; and when amongst his papers 
were discovered the copy of an important council of 
war, the state of the garrison and works, and obser- 
vations upon various means of attack and defence, 
the whole in Arnold's own hand writing. 

The adjutant-general wrote also to the general, 
avowing his name and situation. Orders were sent 
to arrest Arnold ; but he escaped in a boat, got on 

1779, 1780, 1781, 351 

board the English frigate the Vulture, and as no 
person suspected his flight, he was not stopped at 
any post. Colonel Hamilton, who had gone in 
pursuit of him, received soon after, by a flag of 
truce, a letter from Arnold to the general, in which 
he entered into no details to justify his treachery, 
and a letter from the English commander, Robertson, 
who, in a very insolent manner, demanded that the 
adjutant-general should be delivered up to them, as 
he had only acted with the permission of General 

The first care of the general has been to assemble, 
at West Point, the troops that, under various pre- 
tences, Arnold had dispersed. We remain here to 
watch over the safety of a fort, that the English 
may respect less as they become better acquainted 
with it. Continental troops have been summoned 
here, and as Arnold's advice may determine Clinton 
to make a sudden movement, the army has received 
orders to be prepared to march at a moment's 


Camp, on the right side of the North River, near the 
Island of New York, October 4th, 1780. 

A FRENCH frigate arriving from America, the son 
of M. de Rochambeau on board ! Good God, what 
a commotion all that will excite, and how much 
trouble inquisitive people will take to discover the 
secrets of the ministers. But I, my dear cousin, 
will confide to you our secret. The French army 
has arrived at Rhode Island, and has not quitted 
that spot. M. de Ternay's seven vessels have been 
blockaded the whole time, and the English have 


nineteen vessels here under that lucky commander, 
Rodney. We Americans, without money, without 
pay, and without provisions, by holding out fair 
promises, have succeeded in forming an army, which 
has been offering to fight a battle with the English 
for the last three months, but which cannot without 
vessels reach the island of New York. Gates, who 
was no favourite of mine, has become still less so 
since he has allowed himself to be beaten in the 
south. But all this is quite as monstrous as an 
European war, and catastrophes are necessary to 
excite and sustain the interest of men. 

You must know, then, my cousin, that a certain 
General Arnold, of some reputation in the world, 
was our commander at West Point, a fort on the 
North River, whose importance the Duke d'Ayen 
will explain to you. General Washington and I, 
returning from Hartford, where we had held a con- 
ference with the French generals, discovered a con- 
spiracy of the highest importance. We owe that 
discovery to an almost incredible combination of 
accidents. West Point was sold by Arnold, and 
we were consequently lost. The traitor has fled to 
join the enemy. 

I received letters from you by the fleet, and by 
the Alliance, and I am impatiently expecting more 
recent ones. The nation will not be pleased with the 
state of tranquillity in which we remain. But as we 
have no ships, we can only wait for the enemy's 
blows, and General Clinton does not appear in any 
haste to attack us. As to ourselves, we republicans 
preach lectures to our sovereign master, the people, 
to induce him to recommence his exertions. 
In the mean while we practise so much frugality, 
and are in such a state of poverty and nudity, that 
I trust an account will be kept in the next world, 

1779, 1780, 1781. 353 

whilst we remain in purgatory) of all we have suf- 
fered here. 

Poircy* is here, and although he does not find a 
St Germain in this part of the world, he accustoms 
himself extremely well, I assure you, to a soldier's 
life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for 
all the news you gave me. Although they afforded 
me the greatest pleasure, I scarcely dare reply to 
them, from the fear that my answers may appear 
to come from another world. I saw in the paper 
that the King of Spain was dead : has God, then, 
punished him for having conferred the title of 
grandee upon M. de Montbarrey ? 

I need not tell you that I am in good health, 
for that is, you know, my usual custom. My situ- 
ation here is as agreeable as possible. I am in high 
favour, I believe, with the French army : the Ame- 
rican army shew me every possible kindness and 
attention. I have the command of a flying corps, 
composed of the elite of the troops. My friend 
General Washington continues to be everything to 
me that I before described to you. 

Adieu, my dear cousin. When shall I again see 
you ? I pray that God may grant us an honourable 
peace, and that I may embrace my friends, and I 
willingly, for my own part, will give up my share of 
the glory in the hope eventually to win, 

Present my affectionate regards to M. de Tesse, 
M. de Mun, M. Tenai, and the baron ;f I was on 
the point of saying, embrace his daughter for me. 

* Secretary. The Marshal de Noailles had a house at 
Saint Germain. 

f The Baron de Tott. 




Near Fort Lee, opposite Fort Washington, 
on the North River, Oct. 7th, 1780. 

You must have already learnt, my dearest love, all 
that can interest you relating to myself, from my 
arrival at Boston until my voyage to Rhode Island, 
which place public affairs, and the desire of seeing 
my friends, induced me to visit soon after my 
landing. I have been since to Hartford in Connec- 
ticut, to be present at an interview between the 
French generals and General Washington : of all 
my young friends, Damas* was the only one who 
accompanied us. The viscount f and I often write 
to each other, but we do not meet, and the poor 
man remains shut up in Rhode Island ; the French 
squadron detains the army there, and is itself de- 
tained by nineteen ships of the line and sundry 
other ships of war, upon which M. Rodney proudly 
exhibits the British colours. So long as our naval 
inferiority lasts, you need feel no anxiety about the 
health of your friends in America. 

I must speak to you, however, about my health ; 
it continues excellent, and has not been interrupted 
for a single moment ; a soldier's mode of living is 
extremely frugal, and the general officers of the 
rebel army fare very differently from the French army 
at Newport. You have probably heard that, on my 
arrival in America, I found the army of General 
Washington very weak in numbers, and still more 
so in resources. Our prospects were not brilliant, 
and the loss of Charleston was for us a most heavy 

* The Count Charles de Damas, died a peer of France under 
the restoration. 

The Viscount de Noailles. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 355 

blow, but the desire of co-operating with their allies 
gave new vigour to the states. General Washing- 
ton's army increased more than half in number, and 
more than ten thousand militia were added to it, 
who would have come forward if we had acted offen- 
sively. Associations of merchants and patriotic 
banks were formed to supply the army with sub- 
sistence. The ladies made, and are still making, 
subscriptions, to afford succour to the soldiers. 
When that idea was first proposed, I made myself 
your ambassador to the ladies of Philadelphia, and 
you are inscribed on the list for a hundred guineas. 
General Gates had in the south an army quite suffi- 
cient for defence ; but he has been completely 
beaten in Carolina. The fruit of all these labours 
has been, to prove to the French that the Americans 
desire nothing better than to second their views 
upon England, to prove to the English that the 
flame of liberty was not wholly extinguished in 
America, and to keep us, during the whole cam- 
paign, in daily expectation of a battle, which 
General Clinton, although equal to us in number, 
has never thought proper to accept. If we had 
only had ships, we should have been enabled to do 
a great deal more. 

As I know that all that interests me deeply is 
also interesting to you, I will tell you that we are 
much occupied by an important system, which 
would secure to us a considerable army during the 
whole war, and would bring into action all the 
resources which America is capable of making. 
God grant that the nation may understand its true 
interests, and our affairs will go on without diffi- 
culty ! 

M. de Rochambeau and M. de Ternay, as well as 
all the other French officers, conduct themselves 

A A2 


extremely well here. A little ebullition of frank- 
ness gave rise to a slight altercation between those 
generals and myself. As I perceived I could not con- 
vince them, and that it was important for the public 
good that we should remain friends, I declared, with 
due humility, that I had been mistaken, that I had 
committed an error, and, in short, in proper terms, 
I asked their pardon, which produced such an 
excellent effect that we are now on a more amicable 
footing than ever. 

I command a flying corps, which always forms an 
advance guard, and is quite independent of the great 
army ; this is far too grand for our pacific situation. 

On the Hackensack River, Oct. 8th, 1780. 
You will learn, my dearest love, an important event, 
which has exposed America to the greatest danger. 
A frightful conspiracy has been planned by the cele- 
brated Arnold : he sold to the English the fort of 
West Point, which was under his command, and, 
consequently, the whole navigation of the river: 
the plot was within an ace of succeeding, and quite 
as many chances combined together to discover it as 
in that affair of the Alliance, which I have so often 
described to you.* After our journey to Hartford, 
General Washington passed by West Point, which 
was not on his road ; but he was desirous of shew- 
ing me the works that had been constructed since 
my departure for France. Detained by various 
accidents upon the road, we arrived at the traitor's 
house just as he received the letters which announced 
that he had been discovered. He had not time to 
intercept those proofs of infamy, and consequently 

* The conspiracy discovered on board the frigate which 
brought home M. de. Lafayette, in September, 1779. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 357 

he could only make his escape towards New York 
half an hour before our arrival. 

The adjutant-general of the English army has 
been arrested under a feigned name and dress. 
He was an important person, the friend and confi- 
dant of General Clinton. He behaved with so much 
frankness, courage, and delicacy, that I could not 
help lamenting his unhappy fate. 

I received, with great delight, the letters of my 
dear sisters ; I shall write to them to-morrow ; but 
I shall send this scrawl, as I fear the frigate may 
depart. I finish my letter in this place, having 
begun it rather more close to the enemy : we had 
approached them to protect a small enterprise, in 
which a detachment of my advance-guard has been 
engaged, and which only ended by capturing two 
officers, and fifteen men and horses. We are now 
marching towards a place you will find marked upon 
the map Sotawa, whither the grand army is also to 
repair. I shall write to Madame d'Ayen and to my 

Sotawa Bridge, October 10th, 1780. 
I AM closing my letter, but before sealing it, I 
must again speak to you for a moment of my affec- 
tion. General Washington was much pleased by 
the kind messages which I delivered from you ; he 
desires me to present to you his tender regards ; he 
is affectionately attached to George, and is much 
gratified by the name we have given him. We 
often speak of you and of the little family. Adieu, 



Light Camp, October 30th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, In our conversations upon 
military operations you have often told me that, 
since the beginning of the campaign, your eyes 
were turned towards a project upon which I gene- 
rally agree in opinion with you, and beg leave to 
offer some observations. 

Far from lessening my desire of finishing the 
campaign by some brilliant stroke, the project of 
Staten Island, though it miscarried, has strengthened 
my opinions, as I have clearly seen, by the details 
of this operation, that we should, in all human pro- 
bability, have succeeded, and that our men were 
fully equal to any enterprise of that kind.* 

My reasons for wishing to undertake something 
are these : 1st. Any enterprise will please the 

* M. de Lafayette had taken, since the 7th of August, com- 
mand of the corps of light infantry, consisting of six companies 
of men, selected in different lines of the army. Those batta- 
lions were divided into two brigades ; one under the command 
of General Hand, the other of General Poor. The inactivity 
of the army was very opposite to the character and policy of 
M. de Lafayette ; he endeavoured incessantly to find means of 
putting an end to it, at least as far as regarded himself. The 
14th of August he had written to General Washington to ask 
his permission to attempt a nocturnal surprise on the two camps 
of Hessians established at New York Island. At the beginning 
of ( >ctober, he attempted an expedition on Italian Island, which 
could not be accomplished, owing to a mistake made by the ad- 
ministration of the materality of the army. This letter, and the 
letters of the 13th of November, allude to this circumstance. 
We have been obliged to retrench ten letters, which relate solely 
to the unimportant incidents of a war of observation. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 359 

people of this country, and shew them that when we 
have men we do not lie still; and even a defeat (pro- 
vided it was not fatal) would have its good conse- 
quences. 2ndly. The French court have often 
complained to me of the inactivity of the American 
army, who, before the alliance, had distinguished 
themselves by their spirit of enterprise. They have 
often told me, your friends leave us now to fight 
their battles, and do no more risk themselves : it 
is, moreover, of the greatest political importance to 
let them know, that, on our side, we were ready to 
co-operate. Be sure, my dear general, that many 
people's interest will be to let it be believed that 
we were not ready , and if anything may engage the 
ministry to give us the asked for support, it will be 
our proving to the nation that, on our side, we had 
been ready. So far was the Chevalier de la Luzerne 
convinced of this (and on this point the minister's in- 
terest is the same as ours) that he was made happy 
by my mentioning to him the Staten Island affair. 
I well know the court of Versailles, and were I to 
go to it, I should think it very impolitic to go 
there unless we had done something. 3rdly. It is 
more than probable that mediators will interfere 
this winter by a negotiation. Then England will 
say, how can we give up people whom we consider 
as half conquered ; their best city has been taken 
by an army not much superior to the people that 
were to defend it ; their southern army was routed 
almost as soon as looked at by the British troops : 
New York is so much ours, that they dare not ap- 
proach it, and General Washington's army does not 
exceed five thousand men. What shall France 
answer? Principally now that from the letters I 
have received I find the Charleston affair has 


brought our arms into contempt. But what differ- 
ence, if France might say, the American army has 
taken, sword in hand, your best works ; they have 
offered to you the battle upon your own island, and, 
perhaps they may add (for news increases in tra- 
velling), they are now in possession of New York. 

Upon these considerations, my dear general, what 
I want is this, to find an expedition which may 
wear a brilliant aspect, and afford probable ad- 
vantages, also an immense, though very remote 
one, which, if unsuccessful, may not turn fatal to 
us, for the loss of two or three hundred men, half 
of them being enlisted for two months, I do not con- 
sider as a ruinous adventure. 

The basis of the plan will be, that Fort Washing- 
ton, being in our possession, may, with the Fort Lee 
batteries, protect our crossing North River, and be a 
security for our retreat, principally if some works 
are added on the point of embarkation. The taking 
of Fort Washington we may demonstrate to be very 
probable, and upon that point you are of my opi- 

The enemy have, on the upper part of the Island 
from fifteen hundred to two thousand men, who 
would immediately occupy all the other upper 
posts. Their army on Long Island would repair to 
New York, and there would also retire the troops 
posted at Harlem. 

As soon as Fort Washington should be ours, the 
army would cross over to the island, and those of 
West Point arrive in the same time (which calcula- 
tion may be easily done) so that we should effectually 
possess all the upper posts, or cut them off from 
their main army. Some militia would come to our 
assistance, and as these posts are not well furnished 

1779, 1780, 1781, 3d 

with provisions we should take them, at least, by 

The enemy's army consists of nine thousand men : 
they must certainly leave one thousand men in their 
several posts ; fifteen hundred of them, at least, 
will be either killed at Fort Washington or blocked 
up at Laurel Hill, and they will then have be- 
tween six and seven thousand men to attack ten. 
The two thousand militia (in supposing that they 
durst take them out) I do not mention, because 
we may have four thousand militia for them : 
under such circumstances it is, probable that Sir 
Henry Clinton will venture a battle. If he does, 
and by chance beat us, we retire under Fort Wash- 
ington ; but, if we beat him, his works will be at 
such a distance, that he will be ruined in the re- 
treat. If, on the contrary, he knows that the 
French army is coming, and if we spread the re- 
port of a second division, or of Count de Guichen 
being upon the coasts, he will keep in his works, 
and we will, some way or other, carry the upper 
posts. When we are upon the spot we may re- 
connoitre New York, and see if something is to be 
done. If Clinton was making a forage into the 
Jerseys, I should be clear for pushing to the city. 

If we undertake, the circumstances of the 
weather make it necessary that we undertake im- 
mediately. I would move the army, as soon as 
possible, to our position near the new bridge. This 
movement may invite Clinton in the Jerseys, and 
bring us nearer to the point of execution. 

Though my private glory and yours, my dear 
general, both of which are very dear to my heart, 
are greatly interested, not so much for the opinions 
of America, as for those of Europe, in our doing 
something this campaign, I hope you know me too 


wdl to think I should insist upon steps of this 
nature unless I knew that they were politically ne- 
cessary, and had a sufficient military probability. 

I have the honour to be, &c. 

The six hundred men of Luzerne's legion might 
be got in twelve days. If our movements had no 
other effect but to make a diversion in favour of 
the south, it would, on that footing, meet with the 
approbation of the world, and perhaps impeach the 
operations of General Leslie. 



Head-quarters, 30th October, 1780. 
IT is impossible, my dear marquis, to desire more 
ardently than I do, to terminate the campaign by 
some happy stroke ; but we must consult our means 
rather than our wishes, and not endeavour to better 
our affairs by attempting things which, for want of 
success, may make them worse. We are to lament 
that there has been a misapprehension of our cir- 
cumstances in Europe ; but to endeavour to recover 
our reputation, we should take care that we do not 
injure it more. Ever since it became evident that 
the allied arms could not co-operate this campaign, 
I have had an eye to the point you mention, deter- 
mined, if a favourable opening should offer, to em- 
brace it ; but, so far as my information goes, the 
enterprise would not be warranted ; it would, in my 
opinion, be imprudent to throw an army of ten 
thousand men upon an island against nine thou- 
sand, exclusive of seamen and militia. This, from 

1779, 1780, 1781. 3C3 

the accounts we have, appears to be the enemy's 
force. All we can do at present, therefore, is to 
endeavour to gain a more certain knowledge of 
then: situation, and act accordingly. This I have 
been some time employed in doing, but hitherto 
with little success. I shall thank you for any aids 
you can afford. Arnold's flight seems to have 
frightened all my intelligencers out of their senses. 
I am sincerely and affectionately yours. 


Light Camp, November 13th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, In revolving in my mind 
the chances of discovery by moonlight, and, on the 
other hand, the inconveniences of staying longer 
than you wish under our tents, I have thought if 
there was any position which might enable us to 
take advantage of the first hours of the night. 
How far the sending of the Pennsylvanians towards 
Aquakanac, and going ourselves to the Hukinsac* 
position, may awaken the enemy, I cannot pretend 
to say. The most difficult affair in this would be 
the article of the boats. Colonel Smith will go to- 
morrow morning to West Point, unless any intel- 
ligence received at head-quarters had made it useful 

* The general-in-chief projected an attack on the posts of 
the northern part of New York. While General Heath was to 
attract, by a feint, the attention of the enemy, Washington was 
to march in advance, and M. de Lafayette to attack Fort Wash- 
ington. This expedition, for which great preparations had been 
made, terminated in a few reconnoitring parties. The cam- 
paign closed without an engagement. 


that the enterprise be attempted soon, in which 
case he would go and reconnoitre the place. Sup- 
pose he was to bring from West Point Colonel 
Gouvion, who has often examined the place with 
the eye of an engineer. These ideas, my dear 
general, have rather started into my mind, than 
become fixed, and I thought I would communicate 

Most affectionately and respectfully yours, 


The Marquis de Laval Montmorency, one of the 
most illustrious families in France, is on his way to the 
camp. The Chevalier de Chastellux, a relation and 
friend of mine, major-general in the French army, is 
also coming. I every day expect my brother-in- 
law, and his friend, Count de Charms, only son to 
the Marquis de Castries, who enjoys a great consi- 
deration in France, and has won the battle of 
Closter Camp. The Duke of Lauzun has also written 
to me that he would come soon.* These five gen- 
tlemen may, by their existence at home, be consi- 
dered as the first people in the French army. This 
little history I give you before their arrival, in con- 
sequence of what you have desired from me at the 

I write some letters to the commanding officers 
at Fishkill, West Point, and King's Ferry, so that 
the gentlemen may be directed to come by the best 
road to my quarters, from which I will present them 

* The Marquis de Laval, is the Duke de Laval, who died 
under the restoration. The Chevalier de Chastellux is well 
known by his works. The Count de Charlus is at present the 
Duke de Castries, member of the chamber of peers. M. de 
Lauzun has been general i& the service of the French re- 

1779, 1780, 1781. 365 

to you. I think the letters ought to be sent as 
soon as possible. 

P. S. As General Heath commands in all these 
parts, I think, upon recollection, that I had better 
write to him alone. You might also send him a 
line on the subject. 


"Paramus, November the 28th, 1780. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, We arrived last night at this 
place, and were much favoured by the weather in 
our recognising of the Island, where, I confess, my 
feelings were different from what I had experienced 
when looking at these forts with a hopeful eye. I 
saw the fatal sentry alluded to, Colonel Gouvion, 
on an upper battery of Jeffery's Hook. I also saw 
a small vessel playing off this Hook, but quite a 
trifling thing, without guns, and but two men on 
board. Nothing else on the river but the usual 
guards of spiting devil. 

As you have been pleased to consult me on the 
choice of an adjutant-general, I will repeat here, my 
dear general, that though I have a claim upon Ge- 
neral Hand, in every other point of view, his zeal, 
obedience, and love of discipline, have given me a 
very good opinion of him. 

Colonel Smith has been by me wholly employed 
in that line, and I can assure you that he will per- 
fectly answer your purpose. 

Unless, however, you were to cast your eye on a 
man who, I think, would suit better than any other 


in the world. Hamilton is, I confess, the officer 
whom I should like to see in that station. With equal 
advantages, his services deserve from you the pre- 
ference to any other. His knowledge of your 
opinions and intentions on military arrangements, 
his love of discipline, the superiority he would have 
over all the others, principally when both armies shall 
operate together, and his uncommon abilities, are cal- 
culated to render him perfectly agreeable to you. His 
utility would be increased by this preferment ; and 
on other points he could render important services. 
An adjutant-general ought always to be with the 
commander-in-chief. Hamilton should, therefore, 
remain in your family, and his great industry in 
business would render him perfectly serviceable in 
all circumstances. On every public or private ac- 
count, my dear general, I would advise you to take 

I shall, on my arrival at Philadelphia, write you 
how those matters are going, upon which I build my 
private schemes. But I heartily wish that some 
account or other from Europe may enable you to 
act this winter on maritime operations. I hate the 
idea of being from you for so long a time ; but I 
think I ought not to stay idle. At all events, I 
must return when your army takes the field. 

I flatter myself with the hope of meeting Mrs. 
Washington on the road. Adieu, my dear general, 
most affectionately and respectfully yours. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 367 



Philadelphia, December 5th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, By my letter of yesterday I 
have mentioned to you that a Spanish expedition 
was intended against St. Augustine. They mean to 
set out at the end of December, which will certainly 
delay them till the middle of January. It consists 
of twelve ships of the line, some frigates, bomb 
ketches, and a large number of troops. I have 
advised the minister to communicate officially to 
you this intelligence, and also to Count de Rocham- 
beau, that proper means, if convenient, may be 
taken to improve it. 

For my part, my dear general, I have conducted 
myself agreeably to what you said to me in our last 
conversations, that if, in the course of the winter, a 
naval superiority was obtained, our business should be 
to push for the southward, and that you would take 
for that purpose four thousand French and two 
thousand Americans. Nothing against New York 
can be undertaken before the end of May. Any 
thing, therefore, that could employ us during Feb- 
ruary, March, and April, is worthy of our attention. 

* The winter, according to custom, causing the dispersion of 
the army, M. de Lafayette repaired to Philadelphia to be nearer 
arrivals and intelligence from Europe. It was there he first 
conceived the project of going to serve in the south under Ge- 
neral Greene, who was to make a winter campaign. As re- 
gards the project of making a division in Florida, with the 
co-operation of the Spaniards, he seconded it with ardour, and to 
General Washington, M. de la Luzerne, and the Spanish com- 
manders, he wrote long letters on the subject, which have but 
little interest, owing to the project not having been attended 
with any important result : those letters have been omitted. 


The confederacy was going to sail for some cloth- 
ing which we have in the West Indies. No time 
was left to wait for an answer from you. I knew 
perfectly your sense of this affair. I therefore, with 
the advice of Chevalier de la Luzerne, wrote him a 
letter dated from Camp, wherein I explained to him 
that something might be done in conjunction for 
the public good. My opinion is strengthened by 
your sentiments on this matter, without, however, 
bringing myself, and still less yourself, to make 
any formal application to the Spanish generals. 

Inclosed you will find a copy of this letter, the 
first part of which mentions that if, after having 
landed their troops in Florida, they would send their 
ships of the line for us, we might, at three weeks 
notice before the departure of the squadron, have in 
readiness six thousand men for a powerful diversion 
in Carolina. Their own interest is the only thing I 
seem to consider in this business, and I endeavour 
to invite Spanish caution in this measure ; but, 
unless a more particular application is made, I do 
not believe that this part of my letter will have any 

The second part will, I hope, be productive of 
some good for America. I urge the necessity im- 
mediately to open a correspondence with General 
Greene that he may, by his manoeuvres, facilitate the 
operation of Spain. I tell them, that unless they 
land a corps of troops on the boundaries of Georgia, 
witli a view at least to threaten Augusta and Sa- 
vannah, their expedition will run a great risk. I 
advise the measure of cruizing off Charleston Har- 
bour, the whole under the idea of their own interest. 

I have also written to the naval French com- 
mander in the West Indies, advising him to succour 
Chevalier de Ternay, which I know he will not do. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 369 

But I take this opportunity of condemning their 
foolish neglect, in not appearing on our coasts when 
they return to Europe ; and I do also advise that, in 
their cruizes from St. Domingo, they may some- 
times appear off Savannah and Charlestown Harbour. 
Inclosed you will find a copy of this letter. 

Though I always speak of the beginning of 
February, it is, however, certain, that any time in 
February would be convenient to go to the south- 
ward. March and April are more than sufficient 
for the taking of Charlestown ; and in all cases, I 
know, from our last conversations, that you wish for 
a naval superiority this winter, in order to succour 
the southern states. 

I had this morning, my dear general, a long con- 
versation with the Chevalier de la Luzerne, relating 
to a southern operation. He is, as well as myself, 
clearly of opinion, that unless a formal application 
and a plan of campaign be proposed to them, they 
will not send their ships to us. In this last case 
their coming ought still to be questioned. But if 
you thought it better to try, you might propose to 
the French generals to send a frigate there, and see, 
with them, what might be done in conjunction. Sup- 
pose they were to take four thousand men, leaving 
some, and the militia, at Rhode Island. We could 
on our part muster two thousand Americans. How- 
ever, the Spaniards are so positive and strict in 
following literally their instructions, that I do not 
believe anything will engage them to come. But 
my letter, which I look upon as a mere cipher on the 
first proposition, will, I hope, engage them to im- 
part their projects to General Greene, and of course 
this diversion will become useful to us. 

Suppose Count de Rochambeau and Chevalier de 
Ternay were to send to Havanna a copy of your 

VOL. I. B B 


letter, I think they ought to intrust it to Viscount 
de Noailles, who will soon return to Rhode Island, 
and whose name is highly respected hy the court of 
Spain for many particular reasons, too long to be 
mentioned here. 

I have seen Mr. Ross, and find that very little 
clothing is to be for the present expected. They have 
some arms on board the Alliance, and, I think, a hun- 
dred bales of cloth on board a vessel under Jones's 
convoy. The remainder will come with the Serapis. 
Unless the storm has forced Jones to put in some 
French harbour, he may be expected every minute. 

The assembly of Pennsylvania have before them 
the affair of the recruits ; but proper arrangements 
are not properly supported. They are fond of 
voluntary enlistments. I have an appointment for 
to-morrow with General Mifflin, where I will debate 
this matter with him. 

To-morrow, my dear general, I will go to Brandy- 
wine with Chevalier de Chastellux, and also to 
Red Bank, Fort Mifflin, &c. On my return I hope 
to find news from France, and I will write you my 
determination about my going to the southward. 

Inclosed you will find a newspaper, wherein 
congress have printed a letter from General Gates, 
relating to a new success of Sumpter. 

Congress have lately received letters from Mr. 
Jay and Mr. Adams, but nothing very particular. 
They have more fully written by other opportunities 
that are expected. Portugal has entered into the 
convention of neutrality , and with such conditions as 
to shew their partiality to our side of the question. 

Adieu, my dear general, most respectfully and 

1779, 1780, 1781. 371 


New Windsor, 14th December, 1780. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, Soon after despatching my 
last letter to you, your favour dated at Paramus 
was put into my hands by Colonel Gouvion. The 
Chevalier de la Luzerne's despatches came in time 
for the post, which is the only means left me for 
the conveyance of letters ; there not being so much 
money in the hands of the quartermaster-general (I 
believe I might go further, and say in those of the 
whole army,) as would bear the expense of an ex- 
press to Rhode Island. I could not get one the 
other day to ride so far as Compton. 

I am now writing to the Count de Rochambeau 
and the Chevalier de Ternay, on the subject of your 
several letters. When their answer arrives, I will 
communicate the contents to you. You must be 
convinced, from what passed at the interview at 
Hartford, that my command of the French troops 
at Rhode Island stands upon a very limited scale, 
and that it would be impolitic and fruitless in me 
to propose any measures of co-operation to a third 
power, without their concurrence ; consequently an 
application from you, antecedently to an official 
proposition from the minister of France, the gen- 
tlemen at the head of the French armament at Rhode 
Island, congress, or myself, could only be con- 
sidered as coming from a private gentleman ; it is, 
therefore, my advice to you to postpone your cor- 
respondence with the Spanish generals, and let your 
influence come in hereafter, as auxiliary to some- 

B B 2 


thing more formal and official. I do not hesitate 
to give it clearly as my opinion to you, (but this 
opinion and this business should be concealed 
behind a curtain,) that the favourable moment of 
the Spanish operations in the Floridas ought to be 
improved to the utmost extent of our means, pro- 
vided the Spaniards, by a junction of their maritime 
force with that of his most Christian Majesty, under 
the command of the Chevalier de Ternay, will give 
us a secure convoy, and engage not to leave us 
until the operations shall be at an end, or it can be 
done by consent of parties. 

1 am very thankful to the minister for permitting, 
and to you for communicating to General Greene, 
intelligence of the Spanish movements towards the 
Floridas. It may have a happy influence on his 
measures, and it may be equally advantageous to 
the Spaniards. Your expressions of personal at- 
tachment and affection to me are flattering and 
pleasing, and fill me with gratitude. It is unneces- 
sary, I trust, on my part, to give you assurances of 
mutual regard, because I hope you are convinced of 
it ; and as I have already put it absolutely in your 
own choice to go to the southern army or to stay 
with this, circumstances and inclination alone 
must govern you. It would add to my pleasure if 
I could encourage your hope of Colonel Nevill's ex- 
change. I refused to interest myself in the exchange 
of my own aide. General Lincoln's were exchanged 
with himself; and upon that occasion, for I know 
of no other, congress passed a resolution, prohibit- 
ing exchanges out of the order of captivity. 

Under one general head, I shall express my con- 
cern for your disappointment of letters, our disap- 
pointment of clothes, and disappointment in the 

1779, 1780, 1781. 373 

mode of raising men ; but I shall congratulate you 
on the late change of the administration of France,* 
as it seems to be consonant to your wishes, and to 
encourage hope. I am much pleased at the friendly 
disposition of Portugal. Much good, I hope, will 
result from the combination of the maritime powers. 
I am in very confined quarters ; little better than 
those at Valley Forge, but such as they are I shall 
welcome into them your friends on their return to 
Rhode Island. I am, &c. 


New Windsor, on the North River, Jan. 30th, 1781. 
THE letters which I had the honour of writing to 
you, sir, and which were dated the 20th May, 19th 
July, 4th and 16th December, have, I hope, reached 
you safely. Since the arrival of the squadron, your 
despatch of the 3rd of June is the only one I have 
received. The Chevalier de la Luzerne has only 
received one letter of the same month, and none 
have yet reached the officers of the army and 

The first copy of this letter will be delivered to 

* The Marquis de Castries had succeeded, as minister of the 
navy, to M. de Sartine. This change gave rise to the hope that 
France would send the promised succours, and that expectation 
induced M. de Lafayette to renounce his journey to the south. 

t This letter was written in ciphers. It is inserted here ex- 
actly as it was first deciphered at the archives of foreign affairs. 
To avoid repetitions, we have not inserted the answers of the 
minister ; these were written in a tone of confidence and friend- 
ship, and accord almost on every point with the ideas of M. de 
Lafayette, which were, in a measure, adopted by the cabinet of 
Versailles for the approaching campaign. 


you by Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, aide-de-camp 
to General Washington, who is charged by congress 
with a private mission. Permit me to recommend 
to you this officer as a man who, by his integrity, 
frankness, and patriotism, must be extremely ac- 
ceptable to government. 

According to the instructions of congress, he will 
place before you the actual state of our affairs, which 
demand, I think more than ever, the most serious 
attention. As to the opinions which I may allow 
myself to express, sir, they entirely correspond with 
those I have hitherto expressed, and the very slight 
alterations observable in them have been occasioned 
by a change of time, prejudices, and circumstances. 
. With a naval inferiority, it is impossible to make 
war in America. It is that which prevents us from 
attacking any point that might be carried with two 
or three thousand men. It is that which reduces- 
us to defensive operations, as dangerous as they are 
humiliating. The English are conscious of this 
truth, and all their movements prove how much 
they desire to retain the empire of the sea. The 
harbours, the country, and all the resources it offers, 
appear to invite us to send thither a naval force. If 
we had possessed but a maritime superiority this 
spring, much might have been achieved with the 
army that M, de Rochambeau brought with him, 
and it would not have been necessary to have 
awaited the division he announced to us. If M. de 
Guichen had stopped at Rhode Island, on his way 
to France, Arbuthnot would have been ruined, and 
not all Rodney's efforts could have prevented our 
gaining victories, Since the hour of the arrival of 
the French, their inferiority has never for one mo- 
ment ceased, and the English and the Tories have 
dared to say that France wished to kindle, without 

1779, 1780, 1781. 375 

extinguishing the flame. This calumny becomes 
more dangerous at a period when the English de- 
tachments are wasting the south ; when, under the 
protection of some frigates, corps of fifteen hundred 
men are repairing to Virginia, without our being 
able to get to them. On the whole continent, with 
the exception of the Islands of Newport, it is phy- 
sically impossible that we should carry on an offen- 
sive war without ships, and even on those Islands 
the difficulty of transportation, the scarcity of pro- 
visions, and many other inconveniences, render all 
attempts too precarious to enable us to form any 
settled plan of campaign. 

The result, sir, of all this is, that the advantage 
of the United States being the object of the war, 
and the progress of the enemy on that continent 
being the true means of prolonging it, and of ren- 
dering it, perhaps, even injurious to us, it becomes, 
in a political and military point of view, necessary 
to give us, both by vessels sent from France, and 
by a great movement in the fleet in the Islands, a 
decided naval superiority for the next campaign ; 
and also, sir, to give us money enough to place the 
American forces in a state of activity ; fifteen 
thousand of the regular army, and ten thousand, or, 
if we choose it, a still greater number of militia in 
this part of the country ; a southern army, of which 
I cannot tell precisely the extent, but which will be 
formed by the five southern states, with all means 
of supporting in this country such a considerable 
force. Such, sir, are the resources that you may 
employ against the common enemy ; immense sums 
of money could not transport resources of equal 
value from Europe to America, but these, without 
a succour of money, although established on the 
verv theatre of war, will become useless ; and that 


succour, which was always very important, is now 
absolutely necessary. 

The last campaign took place without a shilling 
having been spent ; all that credit, persuasion, and 
force could achieve, has been done, but that can 
hold out no longer : that miracle, of which I believe 
no similar example can be found, cannot be renewed, 
and our exertions having been made to obtain an 
army for the war, we must depend on you to enable 
us to make use of it. 

From my peculiar situation, sir, and from what 
it has enabled me to know and see, I think it is my 
duty to call your attention to the American soldiers, 
and on the part they must take in the operations of 
the next campaign. The continental troops have as 
much courage and real discipline as those that are 
opposed to them. They are more inured to priva- 
tion, more patient than Europeans, who, on these 
two points, cannot be compared to them. They 
hav r e several officers of great merit, without men- 
tioning those who have served during the last wars, 
and from their own talents have acquired know- 
ledge intuitively ; they have been formed by the 
daily experience of several campaigns, in which, the 
armies being small, and the country a rugged one, 
all the battalions of the line were obliged to serve as 
advance-guards and light troops. The recruits 
whom we are expecting, and who only bear, in 
truth, the name of recruits, have frequently fought 
battles in the same regiments which they are now 
re-entering, and have seen more gun-shots than 
three-fourths of the European soldiers. As to the 
militia, they are only armed peasants, who have 
occasionally fought, and who are not deficient in 
ardour and discipline, but whose services would be 
most useful in the labours of a siege. This, sir, is 

1779, 1780, 1781. 377 

the faithful picture that I think myself obliged to 
send you, and which it is not my interest to paint 
in glowing colours, because it would be more glorious 
to succeed with slighter means. The Chevalier de 
la Luzerne, who, having himself seen our soldiers, 
will give you a detailed and disinterested account of 
them, will doubtless tell you, as I do, that you may 
depend upon our regular troops. The result of this 
digression, sir, is, to insist still more earnestly on the 
necessity of sending money to put the American 
troops in movement, and to repeat that well-known 
truth, that a pecuniary succour and a naval supe- 
riority must be the two principal objects of the next 

It would take us too long to examine the faults 
that have been committed, and the efforts that the 
states may still endeavour to make : we must return 
to the former point, that, under present circum- 
stances, money is requisite to derive any advantage 
from the American resources ; that the means which 
have been substituted for funds are almost completely 
worn out ; that those to which we are at present re- 
duced, do not fulfil the proposed end, and are opposed 
to the ideas which induced the nation to commence 
the revolution ; that, consequently, we require 
money to restore to the army that degree of activity 
without which it cannot operate in an efficacious 
manner. Clothes, arms, ammunition, are comprised 
in the same article, and Colonel Laurens carries 
with him a copy of the former list, from which some 
deductions have been made. I will content myself 
with saying, that nothing of any importance has 
been sent us, that it is necessary to clothe the 
American army, that it requires arms, and, to be 
enabled to besiege places, a great augmentation of 


powder. As these expenses relate to the pecuniary 
succours, and are those which will strike most 
forcibly individuals, both of the army and nation, I 
think it important that the government should pre- 
pare them with promptness, and send them in a 
secure manner. 

If it should appear strange, sir, to call that com- 
pletion of the army a great effort, I would beg to 
observe, that hunger, cold, nudity, and labour, the 
certainty of receiving neither pay, clothes, nor 
necessary food, being the prospects held out to the 
American soldier, they must be but little inviting to 
citizens who are, generally speaking, accustomed to 
live at home with some degree of comfort ; and 
the English having had sufficient time to think of 
all the naval points, the attacks of next year will 
be anything rather than surprises, and our forces 
must increase in proportion to their precautions. I 
could have wished that there had been some 
French troops, and my confidence in the decrease 
of prejudice has been even greater than that of con- 
gress, General Washington, or your minister at that 
time. The advance-guard of the Count de Rocham- 
beau, although inactive itself from want of ships, by 
its presence alone has rendered an essential service 
to America: if it had not arrived, the campaign 
would have been a ruinous one. When I consider 
the present state 6f feeling, my notion, as I have had 
the honour of telling you before, would be to send 
hither, for the expedition of New York, a division 
of about ten thousand Frenchmen. 

In our conference at Hartford, sir, the calculations 
were of course made, not according to the fortifica- 
tions actually existing, but according to those they 
might intend erecting. The answers General 

1779, 1780, 1781. 379 

Washington thought proper to make to the ques- 
tions put by the Count de Rochambeau, have been 
long since carried to you by the Amazon. A pro- 
posal to ask for a corps of fifteen thousand French- 
men could only be acceptable to the commander-in- 
chief. But if that surplus were to lessen the sum 
of money by means of which fifteen thousand regular 
troops, ten thousand militia, and a southern army 
should be put into motion ; if it were to lessen the 
number of ships that would enable us to act in all 
places, and with a decided superiority ; I must 
again repeat, that pecuniary succours and a naval 
superiority are the two most essential points ; that 
the same quantity of money would, put into action 
here, double that number of American soldiers ; and 
that, without ships, a few thousand men more would 
be but of little use to us. 

The admirable discipline of the French corps, in 
addition to the honour it confers on M. de Rocham- 
beau and the soldiers under his command, fulfils a 
still more important aim, by impressing on the 
minds of the Americans the highest idea of our 

The wisdom of the government, in placing that 
corps under the orders of General Washington, 
allows me only to repeat how essential it is that his 
authority should be complete, and without any sort 
of restriction. The talents, prudence, delicacy, and 
knowledge of country, which are all united in him in 
the greatest degree of perfection, are qualities of 
which one only would suffice to ensure the rigid ob- 
servance of the instructions which I bear ; and the 
longer I remain here, the more fully am I convinced 
that each of them is equally necessary to the har- 
mony and success of the whole affair. 

We have had, lately, sir, an important mutiny, 


of which Colonel Laurens will give you the details.* 
A corps of Pennsylvania!! troops, almost wholly 
composed of strangers, and stationed at Morristown 
(Jersey), unanimously rose against their officers, and, 
under the direction of one of their sergeants, marched 
on to Princetown. The civil authorities repaired 
thither, to afford them the justice they demanded. 
To be in want of food and clothes, to serve for more 
than a year without pay, some of them, indeed, 
having been forced to serve a whole year beyond 
their engagement, are evils to which no army would 
submit. It is singular enough that those mutineers 
should have hung up the envoys of General Clinton. 
The greatest part of the soldiers are disbanded, but 
they are to re-enter the service, and to join the 
recruits in different regiments of the state. I am 
not less positive as to the nuinber of men we shall 
have in our continental army. Some troops be- 
longing to the Jerseys, seduced by example, and 
being those next to the Pennsylvanians, which 
were composed of the greatest number of foreigners, 
wished to take the same method of obtaining justice ; 
but General Washington, having taken the manage- 
ment of this affair in his own hands, sent forward a 
detachment ; the mutineers submitted, and their 
chiefs were punished. It is impossible to pass too 
high encomiums upon the New England troops, 
almost all national ones, whose cause was at bottom 
the same, and who, in spite of their nudity, crossed 
heavy snows to march against the mutineers. This 
proves, sir, that human patience may have some 

* The revolt of the Pennsylvanian line is of the 2nd of Ja- 
nuary. It was appeased ten days afterwards, and imitated, the 
20th of the same month, by the New Jersey troops. (See the 
Letters of Washington at that period, and the Appendix, No. x. 
vol. vii.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 381 

limits, but that soldier citizens will endure far 
more than strangers. These events furnish another 
argument for the necessity of obtaining money. 

I flatter myself, sir, that the government, con- 
scious that the ensuing campaign may be a decisive 
one, will occupy itself seriously of rendering it 
favourable to us. The taking of New York would 
destroy the power of the English on this continent, 
and a short continuation of naval superiority would 
secure to us the easy conquest of all the other parts 
of the United States. As to the taking of New 
York, which it would be rash to consider easy, but 
absurd to respect the town as if it were a fortified 
one, it is, I believe, well authenticated, and General 
Washington has no doubt upon the subject, that 
with the means proposed in my letter, we should 
obtain possession of it in the course of the summer. 

It is, I believe, important to turn, as far as pos- 
sible, the enemy's attention towards Canada. 

When General Washington gave Colonel Laurens 
his opinion respecting military affairs and the 
operations of the campaign, he also put down in 
writing some ideas on our present situation, and 
communicated to me that letter, which contains the 
substance of several of his conversations with me. 
I take the liberty of requesting the king's minister, 
to ask to see that letter. Our situation is not 
painted in flattering colours ; but the general speaks 
from the sad experience of our embarrassments, 
and I agree with him, sir, that it is indispensable 
for us to obtain some pecuniary succours, and a de- 
cided naval superiority. 

You must certainly have learnt, sir, that the de- 
feat of Ferguson, and some other successes of 'ours, 
having disarranged the plans of Lord Cornwallis, 
General Leslie re-embarked to form the junction by 


water, and that he has since arrived at Charlestown. 
Arnold, become an English genera],, and honoured 
by the confidence of that nation, is at this moment 
at the head of a British detachment. Having landed 
in Virginia, he took possession of Richmond for 
some hours, and destroyed some public and private 
property : he must now have retired into a safe 
harbour, or has, perhaps, joined some other expedi- 
tion. At the very moment when the English 
fancied that we were in the most awkward situation 
from the mutiny of some troops, General Wash- 
ington sent a detachment on the left side of the 
Hudson, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hull r 
supported by General Parsons, which surprised, 
at Westchester, a corps of three hundred men under 
Colonel Delancey, wounded several, killed thirty, 
took sixty prisoners, burnt all the barracks and pro- 
visions, and retired, after having destroyed a bridge 
of communication with the Island of New York. 

The general is soon to pass some days with the 
French troops at Rhode Island, and I shall accom- 
pany him on that journey. 

I have the honour to be, sir, with equal affection 
and respect, &c. &c. 

New Windsor, February 4th, 1781. 

BY a letter from M. de Rochambeau, sir, we learn 
that the English squadron in Gardiner's Bay has 
suffered severely from a gale of wind. A seventy- 
four, it is said, has run on shore ; the London, of 
ninety guns, is dismasted, and M. Destouches* was 
preparing to take advantage of this event. But you 
will receive more circumstantial, and perhaps more 

* M. Destouches had replaced in the command of the frigates 
M. de Ternay, deceased the 15th December, after a short ill- 

1779, 1780, 1781. 383 

certain details, by letters from Rhode Island, and 
we are also ourselves expecting some, to fix more 
positively our own ideas and hopes. General Knox, 
commander of our artillery, a man of great merit 
and extreme probity, has just reported to the gene- 
ral the result of a mission which had been given 
him in the New England States. The spirit of pa- 
triotism and the zeal he found, the exertions they 
are making to levy troops, either for the whole 
duration of the war, or for (what amounts, I trust, 
to the same thing) the period of three years, surpass 
our most sanguine hopes ; and as they have twenty 
regiments in the continental service, I can only 
urge, in a still more positive manner, what I have 
already had the honour in writing to you. 


New Windsor, in the North River, February 2nd, 1781. 

THE person who will deliver this to you, my dearest 
love, is a man I am much attached to, and whom I 
wish you to become intimate with. He is the son of 
president Laurens, who has been lately established in 
the Tower of London*; he is lieutenant-colonel in our 
service, and aide-de-camp to General Washington ; 
he has been sent by congress on a private mission 
to the court of France. I knew him well during 
the two first campaigns, and his probity, frankness, 
and patriotism, have attached me extremely to him. 
General Washington is very fond of him ; and of 

* He was detained both as a prisoner of war and a rebel. The 
18th of October, Madame de Lafayette had herself written in 
his favour to M. de Vergennes, a letter which is still preserved 
in the archives of foreign aifairs. 


all the Americans whom you have hitherto seen, he is 
the one I most particularly wish you to receive with 
kindness. If I were in France, he should live en- 
tirely at my house, and I would introduce him to 
all my friends (I have even introduced him to some 
by letter) ; and give him every opportunity in my 
power of making acquaintance, and of passing his 
time agreeably at Versailles ; and in my absence, I 
entreat you to replace me. Introduce him to Ma- 
dame d'Ayen, the Marshal de Mouchy, the Marshal 
de Noailles, and treat him in every respect as a 
friend of the family : he will tell you all that has 
occurred during our campaign, the situation in which 
we are at present placed, and give you all details 
relating to myself. 

Since my arrival here, my health has not for a 
moment failed. The air of this country agrees with 
me extremely well, and exercise is very beneficial to 
me. My exertions during the last campaign did not 
lead me into much danger, and in that respect we have 
not, in truth, much to boast. The French squadron 
has remained constantly blockaded in Rhode Island, 
and I imagine that the Chevalier Ternay died of grief 
in consequence of this event. However this may be, 
he is positively dead. He was a very rough and ob- 
stinate man, but firm, and clear in all his views, and, 
taking all things into consideration, we have sus- 
tained a great loss. The French army has remained 
at Newport, and although its presence has been 
very useful to us, although it has disconcerted some 
plans of the enemy which would have been very 
injurious to us, it might have done still more good 
if it had not been thus blockaded. 

Several Frenchmen have passed by head quar- 
ters. They have all been delighted with General 
Washington, and I perceive with pleasure that he 

1779, 1780, 1781. 385 

will be much beloved by the auxiliary troops. 
Laval and Custine disputed together during the whole 
journey, and at each station would have done much 
better than the American and English generals, but 
never both in the same manner. The viscount and 
Damas have taken a long journey on the continent ; 
we have also had the Count des Deux-Ponts, whom 
I like very much ; M. de Charlus is at present in 
Philadelphia. I intend setting out about the 15th, 
for Rhode Island, and I shall accompany General 
Washington during his visit to the French army. 
When you recollect how those poor rebels were 
looked upon in France, when I come to be hung 
with them, and when you reflect upon my warm 
affection for General Washington, you will conceive 
how delightful it will be for me te witness his re- 
ception there as generalissimo of the combined 
armies of the two nations. 

The Americans continue to testify for me the 
greatest kindness : there is no proof of affection 
and confidence which I do not receive each day 
from the army and nation. I am serving here in 
the most agreeable manner possible. At every cam- 
paign I command a separate flying corps, composed 
of chosen troops ; I experience for the American 
officers and soldiers that friendship which arises 
from having shared with them, for a length of time, 
dangers, sufferings, and both good and evil fortune. 
We began by struggling together ; our affairs have 
often been at the lowest possible ebb. It is gratify- 
ing to me to crown this work with them, by giving 
the European troops a high idea of the soldiers 
who have been formed with us. To all these 
various motives of interest for the cause and army, 
are joined my sentiments of regard for General 
Washington : amongst his aides-de-camp there is 

VOL. i. c c 


one man I like very much, and of whom I have 
often spoken to you ; this is Colonel Hamilton. 

I depend on Colonel Laurens to give you the de- 
tails of our campaign. We remained sufficiently 
near the English to merit the accusation of bold- 


ness ; but they would not take advantage of any of 
the opportunities we offered them. We are all in 
winter quarters in this part of the country. There 
is some activity in the south, and I was preparing 
to go there ; but the wishes of General Washington, 
and the hope of being useful to my countrymen, 
have detained me here. The corps I command 
having returned to the regiments, I have established 
myself at head-quarters. America made great 
efforts last summer, and has renewed them this 
winter, but in a more durable manner, by only 
making engagements for the war, and .1 trust that 
none will have cause to be dissatisfied with us. 

Arnold, who has now become an English general, 
landed in Virginia, with a corps, which appears 
well pleased to serve under his orders. There is no 
accounting for taste ; but I do not feel sorry, J 
own, to see our enemies rather degrade themselves, 
by employing one of our generals, whose talents, 
even before we knew his treachery, we held in 
light estimation : abilities must, in truth, be rare 
in New York. But whilst speaking of baseness, 
Colonel Laurens will tell you of the fine embassy 
sent by General Clinton to some mutinous soldiers. 
He will describe to you also the details of that 
mutiny ; the means employed to arrest it with the 
Pennsylvanians, and also those we employed with 
the Jersey troops. This only proves, however, that 
human patience has its limits, as no European 
army would endure the tenth part of such suffer- 
ings, that citizens alone can support nudity, 

1779, 1780, 1781. 387 

hunger, cold, labour, and the absolute want of that 
pay which is necessary to soldiers, who are more 
hardy and more patient, I believe, than any others 
in ex" twice. 

Embrace our children a thousand and a thousand 
times for me ; their father, although a wanderer, is 
not less tender, not less constantly occupied with 
them, and not less happy at receiving news from 
them. My heart dwells with peculiar delight on 
the moment when those dear children will be pre- 
sented to me by you, and when we may embrace 
and caress them together. Do you think that 
Anastasia will recollect me ? Embrace tenderly 
for me my dear and amiable viscountess, Madame 
du Roure, my two sisters, de Noailles and d'Ayen, 
&c. &c. 


Elk, March the 8th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Your letter of the 1st inst. 
did not come to hand until last evening, and I hasted 
to answer to its contents, though I should, -in a few 
hours, be better able to inform you of my move- 
ments.* From what I hear of the difficulties to 
convoy us down the bay, I very much apprehend 

* An instruction of the 20th of February, enjoined to Ge- 
neral Lafayette to take the command of a detachment assembled 
at Peekskill, to act in conjunction with the militia, and some 
vessels of M. Destouches. He was to proceed by a rapid march 
to Hampton, on the Chesapeak bay, to surprise Arnold at Ports- 
mouth he had orders to return back immediately if he learnt 
that the latter had quitted Virginia, or that the French com- 

c c 2 


that the winds will not permit any frigate to come 
up. Count de Rochambeau thinks his troops equal 
to the business, and wishes that they alone may 
display their zeal and shed their blood for an expe- 
dition which all America has so much at heart. The 
measures he is taking may be influenced by laudable 
motives, but I suspect they are not entirely free 
from selfish considerations. God grant this may 
not be productive of bad consequences. Baron de 
Viomenil will also want to do everything alone. As 
to the French troops, their zeal is laudable, and I 
wish their chiefs would reserve it for the time when 
we may co-operate with an assurance of success. 

I heartily feel, my dear general, for the honour 
of our arms, and think it would be derogatory to 
them had not this detachment some share in the 
enterprise. This consideration induces me to em- 
bark immediately, and our soldiers will gladly put 
up with the inconveniences that attend the scarcity 
of vessels. We shall have those armed ones (though 
the largest has only twelve guns) and with this 

mander had lost his naval superiority. M. de Lafayette reached 
Pompton the 23rd, (from whence he wrote to the general-in- 
chief,) Philadelphia the 2nd, and Head-of- Elk the 3rd of March. 
Washington, however, had himself repaired to Newport to urge 
the departure of M. Destouche.s, which event he announced in 
a letter of the llth. The result of his encounter on the 16th 
with Admiral Arbuthnot was to oblige the squadron to return to 
Newport, and M. de Lafayette to begin his retreat on the 24th. 
He spoke himself in the following terms of the expedition of 
which this letter treats : 

" Dr. Ramsay and Mr. Marshall speak of the expedition at- 
tempted against Arnold, and the circumstances which caused it^/ 
failure. Lafayette's detachment was composed of twelve hunduefl 
of those soldiers of light infantry which had formed, the preceding 
year, the advance guard of the army : these were drawn from 
regiments of the four states of New England and Jersey. Gor- 
don has truly related that, after conducting them by water from 

1779, 1780, 1781. 389 

every body assures us that we may go without any 
danger to Annapolis. For my part I am not yet de- 
termined what to do ; but if I see no danger to our 
small fleet in going to Annapolis, and if I can get 
Commodore Nicholson to take the command of it, 
I shall perhaps proceed in a small boat to Hampton, 
where my presence can alone enable me to procure a 
frigate, and where I will try to cool the impetuosity 
or correct the political mistakes of both barons.* 

Whichever determination I take, a great deal must 
be personally risked, but I hope to manage things 
so as to commit no imprudence with the excellent 
detachment whose glory is as dear, and whose safety 
is much dearer, to me than my own. I have 
written to General Greene, and will write to the 
governors, either to get intelligence or to prepare 
means to operate ; but (General Greene excepted) 
I do not give them any hint of our intentions fur- 
ther than the expedition against Portsmouth. 

When a man has delicate games to play, and 
when chance may influence so much his success or 
miscarriage, he must submit to blame in case 

Head-of-Elk to Annapolis, he went himself in an open canoe to 
Elizabethtown to accelerate the preparations. The expedition 
having failed, he was obliged to return to Annapolis, where his 
continental troops had remained, vainly expecting that the 
French frigates would come to escort them. It was a bold and 
skilful stroke in him to take advantage of a favourable moment 
to convoy the American flotilla from Annapolis to Head-of-Elk, 
and the detachment had scarcely arrived when General Wash- 
ington, announcing to him that General Phillips, with more 
than two thousand chosen men, had gone to reinforce Arnold, 
and take the command in Virginia, which was to become the 
centre of active operations, desired him to defend the state as 
well and as long as the weakness of his means allowed. (Ma- 
nuscript, No. 2.) 
* Viomenil and Steuben. 


if misfortune. But your esteem, my dear general, 
nd your affection, will not depend upon events. 
Vith the highest respect and most tender friend- 
hip, &c. 


On board the Dolphin, March 9th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Here I am at the mouth of 
Elk River, and the fleet under my command will 
proceed to Annapolis, where I am assured they can 
go without danger. They are protected by the 
Nesbitt, of twelve guns, some field-pieces on board 
the vessel that carries Colonel Stevens, and we 
are going to meet an eight-gun and a six-gun- 
vessel from Baltimore. With this escort, we may 
go as far as Annapolis. No vessel of the enemy 
ever ventured so far up, and if by chance they 
should, our force is superior to any cruizer they 
have in the bay. At Annapolis we shall meet Com- 
modore Nicholson, whom I have requested, by a 
letter, to take the general command of our fleet, 
and if there was the least danger, to proceed farther 
down. They are to remain at Annapolis until I send 
them new orders. 

As to myself, my dear general, I have taken a 
small boat armed with swivels, and on board of 
which I have put thirty soldiers. I will precede the 
fleet to Annapolis, where I am to be met by intelli- 
gence, and conformable to the state of things below, 
will determine my personal movements and those of 
the fleet. 

With a full conviction that (unless you arrived in 

1779, 1780, 1781. 391 

time at Rhode Island) no frigate will be sent to us 
1 think it my duty to the troops I command, and the 
country I serve, to overlook some little personal 
danger, that I may ask for a frigate myself ; and in 
order to add weight to my application, I have 
clapped on board my boat the only son of the 
minister of the French Navy, whom I shall take out 
to speak if circumstances require it. 

Our men were much crowded at first, but I 
unload the vessels as we go along, and take posses- 
sion of every boat that comes in my way. 

These are, my dear general, the measures I 
thought proper to take. The detachment is, I 
hope, free from danger, and my caution on this 
point has been so far as to be called timidity by 
every seaman I have consulted. Captain Martin, 
of the Nesbitt, who has been recommended by 
General Gist, makes himself answerable for the safe 
arrival of the fleet at Annapolis before to-morrow 

I have the honour to be, &c. 


Williamsburg, March the 23rd 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, By former letters your ex- 
cellency has been acquainted with my motions, from 
my arrival at the head of Elk to the time of my 
landing at this place. The march of the detach- 
ment to Elk had been very rapid and performed 
in the best order. Owing to the activity of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Stevens, a train of artillery had 
been provided at Philadelphia, and notwithstanding 


some disappointments, namely, that relating to the 
want of vessels, no delay should have heen imputed 
to us in this co-operation. Having received your 
excellency's letter, by which the sailing of the 
French fleet became a matter of certainty, I deter- 
mined to transport the detachment to Annapolis, 
and did it for many essential reasons. The naviga- 
tion of the bay is such that the going in and the 
going out of Elk River requires a different wind from 
those which are fair to go up and down the 
bay. Our stopping at Annapolis, and making some 
preparations on the road to Carolina, might be of 
use to deceive the enemy. But above all, I thought, 
with your excellency, that it was important, both to 
the success of the operation and the honour of our 
arms, that the detachment should be brought to co- 
operate, and from the time when the French were 
to sail and the winds that blew for some days, I had 
no doubt but that our allies were in the Chesapeak, 
before we could arrive at Annapolis. 

Owing to the good disposition of Commodore 
Nicholson, whom I requested to take charge of our 
small fleet, the detachment was safely lodged in the 
harbour of Annapolis ; and in the conviction that 
my presence here was necessary, not so much for 
preparations which Baron de Steuben provided, as 
for settling our plans with the French, and obtaining 
an immediate convoy for the detachment, I thought 
it better to run some risk than to neglect anything 
that could forward the success of the operation, and 
the glory of the troops under my command. 

On my arrival at this place, I was surprised to 
hear that no French fleet had appeared, but attri- 
buted it to delays and chances so frequent in naval 
matters. My first object was to request that nothing 
be taken for this expedition which could have been 

1779, 1780, 1781. 393 

intended for, or useful to, the southern army, whose 
welfare appeared to me more interesting than our 
success. My second object has been to examine 
what had been prepared, to gather and forward 
every requisite for a vigorous co-operation, 
besides a number of militia amounting to five 
thousand ; I can assure your excellency that 
nothing has been wanting to ensure a complete 

As the position of the enemy had not yet been 
reconnoitred, I went to General Muhlenberg's camp, 
near Suffolk , and after he had taken a position 
nearer to Portsmouth, we marched down with some 
troops to view the enemy 's works. This brought on 
a trifling skirmish, during which we were able to see 
something ; but the insufficiency of ammunition, 
which had been for many days expected, prevented my 
engaging far enough to push the enemy's outposts, and 
our reconnoitring was postponed to the 21st, when, 
on the 20th, Major Mac Pherson, an officer for whom 
I have the highest confidence and esteem, sent me 
word from Hampton, where he was stationed, that 
a fleet had come to anchor within the Capes. So 
far it was probable that this fleet w r as that of M. 
Destouches, that Arnold himself appeared to be in 
great confusion, and his vessels, notwithstanding 
many signals, durst not, for a long time, venture 
down. An officer of the French navy bore down 
upon them from York, and nothing could equal my 
surprise in hearing from Major Mac Pherson, that 
the fleet announced by a former letter certainly 
belonged to the enemy. 

Upon this intelligence, the militia were removed 
to their former position, and I requested Baron de 
Steuben (from whom, out of delicacy, I would not 
take the command until the co-operation was begun, 


or the continental troops arrived) to take such 
measures as would put out of the enemy's reach the 
several articles that had been prepared. On my 
return to this place, I could not hear more parti"- 
cular accounts of the fleet. Some people think 
they are coming from Europe ; but I believe them 
to be the fleet from Gardiner's Bay. They are said 
to be twelve sail in all, frigates included. I have 
sent spies on board and shall forward their report 
to head-quarters. 

Having certain accounts that the French had 
sailed on the 8th, with a favourable wind, I must 
think that they are coming to this place, or were 
beaten in an engagement, or are gone somewhere 
else. In these three cases, I think it my duty to 
stay here until I hear something more, which must 
be in a little time. But as your excellency will 
certainly recal a detachment composed of the 
flower of each regiment, whose loss would be im- 
manse to the army under your immediate command, 
and as my instructions are to march them back as 
soon as we lose the naval superiority in this 
quarter, I have sent them orders to move at the 
first notice which I will send to-morrow or 
the day after, or upon a letter from your excel- 
lency, which my aide-de-camp is empowered to 

Had I not been here upon the spot, I am sure 
that I should have waited an immense time before I 
knew what to think of this fleet, and my presence 
at this place was the speediest means of forwarding 
the detachment either to Hampton or your excel- 
lency's immediate army. By private letters, we 
hear that General Greene had, on the 19th, an en- 
gagement with Lord Cornwallis. The honour of 
keeping the field was not on our side. The enemy 

1779, 1780, 1781. 395 

lost more men than we did. General Greene dis- 
played his usual prudence and abilities, hoth in 
making his dispositions and posting his troops at 
ten miles from the first field of battle, where they 
bid defiance to the enemy, and are in a situation to 
check his progress. 



New Windsor, 6th April, 1781. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, Since my letter to you of 
yesterday,* I have attentively considered of what 
vast importance it will be to reinforce General 
Greene as speedily as possible ; more especially as 
there can be little doubt that the detachment under 
General Phillips, if not part of that now under the 
command of General Arnold, will ultimately join, 
or in some degree co-operate with Lord Cornwallis. 
I have communicated to the general officers at pre- 
sent with the army my sentiments on the subject ; 
and they are unanimously of opinion that the de- 
tachment under your command should proceed and 
join the southern army. Your being already three 
hundred miles advanced, which is nearly half way, 
is the reason that operates against any which can be 
offered in favour of marching that detachment back. 
You will therefore, immediately at the receipt of 
this, turn the detachment to the southward. Inform 

* This related merely to the expedition which had lately- 
failed. Washington deplored its result, which had been occa- 
sioned by maritime events, but he approved and eulogised the 
conduct of M. de Lafayette. 


General Greene that you are upon your march to 
join him, and take his directions as to your route, 
when you begin to approach him. Previously to 
that, you will be guided by your own judgment, and 
by the roads on which you will be most likely to find 
subsistence for the troops and horses. It will be 
well to advise Governor Jefferson of your intended 
march through the state of Virginia, or, perhaps, it 
will answer a good purpose were you to go forward 
to Richmond yourself, after putting the troops in 
motion, and having made some necessary arrange- 
ment for their progress. 

You will take with you the light artillery and 
smallest mortars, with their stores and the musket 
cartridges. But let these follow, under a proper 
escort, rather than impede the march of the detach- 
ment, which ought to move as expeditiously as pos- 
sible without injury to them. The heavy artillery 
and stores you will leave at some proper and safe 
place, if it cannot be conveniently transported to 
Christiana River, from whence it will be easily got 
to Philadelphia. You may leave to the option of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Stevens to proceed or not, as he 
may think proper ; his family is in peculiar circum- 
stances, and he left it with the expectation of being 
absent for a short time. Should there be other 
officers under similar circumstances, you may make 
them the same offers, and they shall be relieved. 

I am, my dear marquis, yours, &c. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 397 


Elk, April 8th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Your excellency's letters of 
the 5th and 6th instant are just come to hand, and 
before I answer their contents, I beg leave to give 
you a summary account of the measures I have 
lately taken. As to the part of my conduct you 
have been acquainted with, I am happy, my dear 
general, to find it has met with your approbation. 

When the return of the British fleet put it out of 
doubt that nothing could be undertaken for the pre- 
sent against Portsmouth, I sent pressing orders to 
Annapolis, in order to have everything in readiness, 
and even to move the troops by land to the Head- 
of-Elk. I myself hastened back to Maryland, but 
confess I could not resist the ardent desire I had of 
seeing your relations, and, above all, your mother, 
at Fredericksburg. For that purpose I went 
some miles out of my way, and, in order to conci- 
liate my private happiness to duties of a public 
nature, I recovered by riding in the night those few 
hours which I had consecrated to my satisfaction. 
I had also the pleasure of seeing Mount Vernon, and 
was very unhappy that my duty and my anxiety for 
the execution of your orders prevented my paying 
a visit to Mr. Curtis.* 

On my arrival at Annapolis, I found that our pre- 
parations were far from promising a speedy de- 
parture. The difficulty of getting wagons and 
horses is immense. No boats sufficient to cross 
over the ferries. The state is very desirous of 

* Son of Mrs. Washington by a former marriage. 


keeping us as long as possible, as they were scared 
by the apparition of the Hope, twenty guns, and the 
Monk, eighteen guns, who blockaded the harbour, 
and who (as appeared by intercepted letters) were 
determined to oppose our movements. 

In these circumstances, I thought it better to con- 
tinue my preparations for a journey by land, which, 
I am told, would have lasted ten days, on account 
of ferries, and, in the meanwhile, had two eigh teen- 
pounders put on board a small sloop, which ap- 
peared ridiculous to some, but proved to be of great 
service. In the morning of the 6th, Commodore 
Nicholson went out with the sloop and another 
vessel, full of men. Whether the sound of eighteen 
pounders, or the fear of being boarded, operated 
upon the enemy, I am not able to say ; but, after 
some manoeuvres, they retreated so far as to render 
it prudent for us to sail to this place. Every vessel 
with troops and stores was sent in the night by the 
commodore, to whom I am vastly obliged ; and 
having brought the rear with the sloop and other 
vessels, I arrived this morning at Elk. It is re- 
ported that the ships have returned to their stations ; 
if so, they must have been reinforced ; their com- 
mander had already applied for an augmentation of 

Before I left Annapolis, hearing that General 
Greene was in ^ant of ammunition, I took the 
liberty of leaving for the southern army four six- 
pounders, with three hundred rounds each, nearly 
a hundred thousand cartridges, and some small 
matters, which I left to the care of the governor 
and General Smallwood, requesting them to have 
wagons and horses impressed, to send them to a 
place of safety, where they must be by this time. 1 
also wrote to the governor of Virginia, to General 

1779, 1780, 1781. 399 

Greene, and the baron. These stores will set off in 
a few days, under the care of a detachment, for the 
Maryland line, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel 

In consequence of previous orders, everything 
was in readiness for our movement. The troops 
were ordered to march the next morning, and I 
expect a sufficiency of vessels is now at Wilmington 
or Christiana Creek ; so that I am in hopes to join 
your excellency in a very few days. Your letter of 
the 6th, ordering me to the southward, is just come 
to hand. Had I been still at Annapolis, or upon 
the road by land, and of course with the same means 
to return that I had to advance, your commands 
should have been immediately obeyed ; but necessity 
keeps us here for some days, and as your letters 
arrived in two days, your answer to this must be 
here before we are in a situation to move. 

When your excellency wrote to me, I was sup- 
posed to be at Annapolis, or very near that place, 
with the means of returning, which makes a great 
difference. Another circumstance, still more material, 
is, that, instead of joining either Arnold or Phillips 
(if Phillips be there) , Lord Cornwallis is so disabled 
as to be forced to a retreat, as appears from General 
Greene's letter. 

To these considerations I have added this one, 
which is decisive : that being fitted only to march 
twelve miles, part of it in the State of Delaware, and 
a part of our provisions being asked for from Phila- 
delphia, it is impossible to have the necessary ap- 
paratus to march and subsist, or to cross ferries on 
our way to the southern army, so as to leave this 
place under four or five days. As to a transporta- 
tion through the bay, we cannot expect the same 
good luck of frightening an enemy, who must know 


how despicable our preparations are ; and we must, 
at least, wait for the return of look-out boats which, 
if sent immediately, will not possibly return under 
five or six days. 

In these circumstances, my dear general, I am 
going to make every preparation to march to Vir- 
ginia, so as to be ready as soon as possible. I shall 
keep here the vessels, and will also keep those which 
have been ordered to Christiana Creek. This state 
of suspense will distract the enemy's conjectures, 
and put me in a situation to execute your excel- 
lency's orders, which will be here before I can be 
able to move with any degree of advantage towards 
the southward. 

Had it been possible to obey to-morrow morning, 
I would have done it immediately ; but since I am 
obliged to make preparations, I beg leave to make 
these observations, which I should have been allowed 
to present, had I been at the meeting of general 

The troops I have with me being taken from 
every northern regiment, have often (though without 
mentioning it) been very uneasy at the idea of 
joining the southern army. They want clothes ; 
shoes particularly ; they expect to receive clothes 
and money from their states. This would be a great 
disappointment for both officers and men. Both 
thought at first they were sent out for a few days, 
and provided themselves accordingly ; both came 
cheerfully to this expedition, but both have had 
already their fears at the idea of going to the south- 
ward. They will certainly obey, but they will be 
unhappy, and some will desert. 

Had this corps considered themselves as light 
infantry, destined for the campaign, to be separated 
from their regiments, it would be attended with less 

1779, 1780, 1781. 401 

inconveniences ; and such a corps, in the course of 
the campaign, might be brought there without dif- 
ficulty, particularly by water, as they would be pre- 
pared accordingly. 

Supposing the Jersey line were to join the de- 
tachment of their troops at this place, it would hardly 
make any difference, as we have been but five days 
coming from Morristown to the Head-of-Elk. 

These considerations, my dear general, I beg you 
to be convinced, are not influenced by personal mo- 
tives. I should most certainly prefer to be in 
a situation to attack New York, nor should I like, 
in an operation against New York, to see you de- 
prived of the New England light infantry ; but I 
think with you, that these motives are not to in- 
fluence our determination, if this be the best way to 
help General Greene. 

By the letters I have received from my two friends, 
Marquis de Castries and Count de Vergennes, I am 
assured that we shall soon get an answer to our 
propositions against New York, and am strongly led 
to hope that, having a naval superiority, the army 
under your immediate command will not remain in- 

At all events, my dear general, I will use my best 
endeavours to be ready to move either way as soon 
as possible ; and have the honour to be, with the 
highest respect and affection, &c. 

D D 



Susquehannah Ferry, 18th April, 1781. 

DEAR HAMILTON,* You are so sensible a fellow, 
that you can certainly explain to me what is the 
matter that New York should be given up ; that our 
letters to France go for nothing ; that when the 
French are coming, I am going. This last matter 
gives great uneasiness to the minister of France. 
All this is not comprehensible to me, who, having 
been long from head-quarters, have lost the course 
of intelligence. 

Have you left the family, my dear sir ? I suppose 
so. But from love to the general, for whom you 
know my affection, I ardently wish it was not the 
case. Many, many reasons conspire to this desire 
of mine ; but if you do leave it, and if I go to exile, 
come and partake it with me. Yours, &c. 

* The llth of April, Washington renewed, with more detail, 
his instructions upon the movement to the south, and General 
Greene, desiring to carry the theatre of war into South Carolina, 
urged General Lafayette to march upon the capital of Virginia. 
The latter made his preparations accordingly, and with great 
activity, in spite of the regret he experienced, and the diffi- 
culties he encountered. He deplored, in truth, that long-pro- 
mised expedition on New York being abandoned ; and he had 
to combat the repugnance of the troops, who threatened to 
become weakened by desertion. This was the subject of several 
long letters we have thought proper to suppress. He wrote, 
also, frequently, to Colonel Hamilton, and we may see some of 
those letters in the life of the latter. We have only inserted 
this one letter, which expresses all he felt. Hamilton, at that 
period, having had a coolness with Washington, wished to quit 
his staff; and it was in reality as an officer of the line that he 
took part in the siege of Yorktown. (See his Life, vol. i., 
chap, xiii.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 403 



Baltimore, April 18th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Every one of my letters were 
written in so lamentable a tone, that I am happy 
to give you a pleasanter prospect. The anxiety I 
feel to relieve your mind from a small part of those 
many solicitudes and cares which our circumstances 
conspire to gather upon you, is the reason of my 
sending this letter by the chain of communication, 
and with a particular recommendation. When I 
left Susquehannah Ferry, it was the general opinion 
that we could not have six hundred men by the 
time we should arrive at our destination. This, 
and the shocking situation of the men offered the 
more gloomy prospects, as the board of war have 
confessed their total inability to afford us relief. 
Under these circumstances, I have employed every 
personal exertion, and have the pleasure to in- 
form you that desertion has, 1 hope, been put to 
an end. 

On my arrival on this side of the Susquehannah, 
I made an order for the troops, wherein I endea- 
voured to throw a kind of infamy upon desertion, 
and to improve every particular affection of theirs. 
Since then, desertion has been lessened. Two de- 
serters have been taken up ; one of whom has been 
hanged to-day, and the other (being an excellent sol- 
dier) will be forgiven, but dismissed from the corps, 
as well as another soldier who behaved amiss. To 
these measures, I have added one which my feelings 
for the sufferings of the soldiers, and the peculiarity 
of their circumstances, have prompted me to adopt. 

The merchants of Baltimore lent me a sum of 



about 2,000/., which will procure some shirts, 
linen, overalls, shoes, and a few hats. The ladies 
will make up the shirts, and the overalls will be 
made by the detachment, so that our soldiers have 
a chance of being a little more comfortable. The 
money is lent upon my credit, and I become 
security for the payment of it in two years' time, 
when, by the French laws, I may better dispose of 
my estate. But before that time, I shah 1 use my 
influence with the French court, in order to have 
this sum of money added to any loan congress may 
have been able to obtain from them. 

In case you are told, my dear general, that my 
whole baggage has been taken in the bay, I am 
sorry I cannot discountenance the report. But 
when the mention of papers and maps is made, 
do not apprehend anything bad for the papers or 
maps you have put in my possession. Nothing has 
been lost but writing paper and printed maps. The 
fact is this : when at York, I had some continental 
soldiers and my baggage to send up in a safe barge 
and an unsafe boat. I, of course, gave the barge 
to the soldiers, who easily went to Annapolis. The 
baggage was put into the boat, and has not been since 
heard of. But being aware of the danger, I took by 
land with me every article that was, on public ac- 
counts, in the least valuable. By a letter from Baron 
de Steuben, dated Chesterfield Court House the 10th 
of April, I find that General Phillips has at Ports- 
mouth 1500 or 2000 men added to the force under 
Arnold. Proper allowance being made for exag- 
gerations, I apprehend that his whole army amounts 
to 2800 men, which obliges me to hasten my march 
to Fredericksburg and Richmond, where I expect 
to receive orders from General Greene. 

The importance of celerity, the desire of length- 

1779, 1780, 1781. 405 

ening the way home, and immense delays that would 
stop me for an age, have determined me to leave 
our tents, artillery, &c., under a guard, and with 
orders to follow as fast as possible, while the rest 
of the detachment, by forced marches, and with 
impressed wagons and horses, will hasten to 
Fredericksburg or Richmond, and by this derange 
the calculations of the enemy. We set off to-morrow, 
and this rapid mode of travelling, added to my 
other precautions, will, I hope, keep up our spirits 
and good humour.* 

I am, my dear general, &c. 

P. S. The word lessened does not convey a suffi- 
cient idea of what experience has proved to be true, 
to the honour of our excellent soldiers. It had 
been announced in general orders, that the detach- 
ment was intended to fight an enemy far superior 
in number, under difficulties of every sort. That 
the general was, for his part, determined to en- 

* This letter announces the real commencement of the Vir- 
ginian campaign. M. de Lafayette marched upon Richmond, 
and thus wrote on the 4th of May : 

" The leaving of my artillery appears a strange whim, but 
had I waited for it, Richmond had been lost. It is not without 
trouble I have made this rapid march. General Phillips has 
expressed to a flag officer the astonishment he felt at our 
celerity ; and when on the 30th, as he was going to give the 
signal to attack, he reconnoitred our position, Mr. Osburn, 
who was with him, says, that he flew into a violent passion, and 
swore vengeance against me and the corps I had brought with 

The subsequent operations are given in detail, both in the 
Memoirs, and in a relation of the campaign ; it was, therefore, 
thought proper to suppress the greatest part of the letters in 
which M. de Lafayette gave an account of them to General 
Washington. To each of those letters is usually annexed a 
copy of his official reports to General Greene. 


counter them, but that such of the soldiers as had 
an inclination to abandon him, might dispense with 
the danger and crime of desertion, as every one of 
them who should apply to head-quarters for a pass 
to join their corps in the north might be sure to 
obtain it immediately. 


Alexandria, April 23rd, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Great happiness is derived 
from friendship, and I experience it particularly 
in the attachment which unites me to you. But 
friendship has its duties, and the man who likes you 
best, will be the first to let you know everything 
in which you may be concerned. 

When the enemy came to your house, many 
negroes deserted to them. This piece of news did 
not affect me much, as I little value these matters. 
But you cannot conceive how unhappy I have been 
to hear that Mr. Lund Washington went on board 
the enemy's vessels, and consented to give them 

This being done by the gentleman who, in some 
measure, represents you at your house, will cer- 
tainly have a bad effect, and contrasts with spirited 
answers from some neighbours that have had their 
houses burnt accordingly. 

You will do what you think proper about it, my 
dear general ; but, as your friend, it was my duty 
confidentially to mention the circumstances. 

With the help of some wagons and horses, we 
got, in two days, from the camp, near Baltimore, to 
this place. We halted yesterday, and having made 

1779, 1780, 1781. 407 

a small bargain for a few pair of shoes, are now 
marching to Fredericksburg. No official account 
from Phillips, but I am told they are removing 
stores from Richmond and Petersburg. I am 
surprised nobody writes to me, and hope soon to 
receive intelligence. 

Our men are in high spirits. Their honour having 
been interested in this affair, they have made a 
point to come with us ; and murmurs, as well as 
desertion, are entirely out of fashion. Requesting 
my best respects to Mrs. Washington, and my com- 
pliments to the family, I have the honour to be, 
with those sentiments which you know, &c. 



New Windsor, May 4, 1781. 

MY DEAR MARQUIS, The freedom of your com- 
munications is an evidence to me of the sincerity of 
your attachment, and every fresh instance of this gives 
pleasure and adds strength to the bond which unites 
us in friendship. In this light I view the intimation 
respecting the conduct of Mr. Lund Washington. 
Some days previous to the receipt of your letter, 
which only came to my hands yesterday, I received 
an account of this transaction from that gentleman 
himself, and immediately wrote and forwarded the 
answer, of which the enclosed is a copy. This let- 
ter, which was written in the moment of my obtain- 
ing the first intimation of the matter, may be con- 
sidered as a testimony of my disapprobation of his 
conduct, and the transmission of it to you, as a 


proof of my friendship ; because I wish you to be 
assured, that no man can condemn the measure 
more sincerely than I do, 

A false idea, arising from the consideration of his 
being my steward, and in that character more the 
trustee and guardian of my property than the repre- 
sentative of my honour, has misled his judgment 
and plunged him into error, upon the appearance of 
desertion among my negroes, and danger to my 
buildings ; for sure I am, that no man is more firmly 
opposed to the enemy than he is. From a thorough 
conviction of this, and of his integrity, I entrusted 
every species of my property to his care, without 
reservation or fear of his abusing it. The last para- 
graph of my letter to him was occasioned by an 
expression of his fear, that all the estates convenient 
to the river would be stripped of their negroes and 
moveable property. 

I am very happy to find that desertion has ceased, 
and content has taken place, in the detachment you 
command. Before this letter can reach you, you 
must have taken your ultimate resolution upon the 
proposal contained in my letters of the 21st and 
22nd ultimo, and have made the consequent ar- 
rangements. I shall be silent, therefore, on the 
subject of them, and only beg, in case you should 
not return to this army, and the papers were not 
lost with your other baggage (on which event give 
me leave to express my concern) that you would 
permit M. Capitaine to furnish me with copies of 
the drafts, and the remarks of the pilots (taken at 
Colonel Day's) on the entrance of the harbour of 
New York. It is possible they may be wanted, 
and I am not able to furnish them without your 

Mrs. Washington and the rest of my small family, 

1779, 1780, 1781. 409 

which, at present, consists only of Tilghman and 
Humphreys, join me in cordial salutations, and, 
with sentiments of the purest esteem and most 
affectionate regard, I remain, my dear marquis, &c. 



New Windsor, April 30, 1781. 

DEAR LUND, I am very sorry to hear of your loss ; I am a 
little sorry to hear of my own ; but that which gives me most 
concern is, that you should go on board the enemy's vessels, 
and furnish them with refreshments. It would have been a less 
painful circumstance to me to have heard that, in consequence 
of your non-compliance with their request, they had burnt my 
house and laid the plantation in ruins. You ought to have con- 
sidered yourself as my representative, and should have reflected 
on the bad example of communicating with the enemy, and 
making a voluntary offer of refreshments to them, with a view 
to prevent a conflagration. 

It was not in your power, I acknowledge, to prevent them 
from sending a flag on shore, and you did right to meet it ; but 
you should, in the same instant that the business of it was un- 
folded, have declared explicitly, that it was improper for you to 
yield to the request ; after which, if they had proceeded to help 
themselves by force, you could but have submitted, and, being 
unprovided for defence, this was to be preferred to a feeble op- 
position, which only serves as a pretext to burn and destroy. 

I am thoroughly persuaded that you acted from your best 
judgment, and believe that your desire to preserve my property, 
and rescue the buildings from impending danger, was your go- 
verning motive ; but to go on board their vessels, carry them 
refreshments, commune with a parcel of plundering scoundrels, 
and request a favour by asking a surrender of my negroes, was 
exceedingly ill judged, and, it is to be feared, will be unhappy in 
its consequences, as it will be a precedent for others, and, may 
be, become a subject of animadversion. 

I have no doubt of the enemy's intention to prosecute the 
plundering plan they have begun ; and, unless a stop can be put 
to it by the arrival of a superior naval force, I have as little 


doubt of its ending in the loss of all my negroes, and in the destruc- 
tion of ray houses. But I am prepared for the event, under the 
prospect of which, if you could deposit in a place of safety the 
most valuable and less bulky articles, it might be consistent 
with policy and prudence, and a means of preserving them here- 
after. Such and so many things as are necessary for common 
and present use must be retained, and must run their chance 
through the fiery trial of this summer. I am sincerely, yours. 


Camp Wilton, on James River, May 17, 1781. 
DEAR GENERAL, My correspondence with one of 
the British generals, and my refusal of a corres- 
pondence with the other, may be, perhaps, misre- 
presented, I shall therefore give an account of what 
has passed, and I hope your excellency and General 
Greene will approve of my conduct. On the arrival 
of our detachment at Richmond, three letters were 
brought by a flag, which I have the honour to in- 
close, and which, as commander of the troops in 
this state, it became my duty to answer. The en- 
closed letters were successively sent in pursuit of 
General Phillips, who received them both with a 
degree of politeness that seemed to apologize for 
his unbecoming style. General Phillips being dead 
of a fever, an officer was sent with a passport and 
letters from General Arnold. I requested the gen- 
tleman to come to my quarters, and having asked 
if General Phillips was dead,* to which he answered 

* Gordon places the death of General Phillips on the 13th of 
May : he was very ill in his bed, when a cannon ball traversed 
his bed-room. 

General Phillips commanded" at Minden the battery whose 
cannon killed the father of M. de Lafayette. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 411 

in the negative, I made it a pretence not to receive 
a letter from General Arnold, which, being dated 
head-quarters, and directed to the commanding 
officer of the American troops, ought to come from 
the British general chief in command. I did, how- 
ever, observe, should any officers have written to me 
I should have been happy to receive their letters. 
The next day the officer returned with the same 
passport and letter, and informed me that he were 
now at liberty to declare that Phillips was dead, 
and Arnold was commander-in- chief of the British 
army in Virginia. The high station of General 
Arnold having obliged me to an explanation, the 
enclosed note was sent to the officer of the flag, and 
the American officer verbally assured him that were 
I requested to put in writing a minute account of 
my motives, my regard for the British army was 
such that I would cheerfully comply with the de- 

Last evening, a flag of ours returned from Peters- 
burg, who had been sent by the commander of the 
advanced corps, and happened to be on his way 
while the British officer was at our picquets. In- 
closed is the note written by General Arnold, in 
which he announces his determination of sending 
our officers and men to the West Indies. 

The British general cannot but perfectly know 
that I am not to treat of partial exchanges, and that 
the fate of the continental prisoners must be re- 
gulated by a superior authority to that with which 
I am invested. 

With the highest respect, I have the honour to 
be, &c. 




British Camp, at Osborn, April 28, 1781. 

SIR, It is a principle of the British army engaged in the pre- 
sent war, which they esteem as an unfortunate one, to conduct 
it with every attention to humanity and the laws of war ; and 
in the necessary destruction of public stores of every kind, to 
prevent, as far as possible, that of private property. I call 
upon the inhabitants of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Petersburg, 
and Chesterfield, for a proof of the mild treatment they have 
received from the king's troops ; in particular at Petersburg, 
when the town was saved by the labour of the soldiers, which 
otherwise must have perished by the wilful inactivity of its in- 

I have now a charge of the deepest nature to make against 
the American arms: that of having fired upon the king's troops 
by a flag of truce vessel ; and, to render the conduct as dis- 
cordant to the laws of arms, the flag was flying the whole time 
at the mast head, seeming to sport in the violation of the 
most sacred laws of war. 

You are sensible, sir, that I am authorized to inflict the severest 
punishment in return for this bad conduct, and that towns and 
villages lay at the mercy of the king's troops, and it is to that 
mercy alone you can justly appeal for their not being reduced 
to ashes. The compassion, and benevolence of disposition, 
which has marked the British character in the present contest, 
still govern the conduct of the king's officers, and I shall wil- 
lingly remit the infliction of any redress we have a right to 
claim, provided the persons who fired from the flag of truce 
vessel are delivered into my possession, and a public disavowal 
made by you of their conduct. Should you, sir, refuse this, I 
hereby make you answerable for any desolation which may 
follow in consequence. 

Your ships of war, and all other vessels, not actually in our pos- 
session in James River, are, however, driven beyond a possibility 
of escaping, and are in the predicament and condition of a town 
blockaded by land, where it is contrary to the rules of war that 
any public stores should be destroyed. I shall therefore demand 

1779, 1780, 1781. 413 

from you, sir, a full account of whatever may be destroyed on 
hoard vessels or otherwise, and need not mention to you what 
the rules of war are in these cases. 

I am, sir, your most humble servant, 




Camp at Osborn, April 29th, 1781. 

SIR, When I was at Williamsburg, and at Petersburg, I gave 
several inhabitants and country people protections for their per- 
sons and properties. I did this without asking, or even consider- 
ing, whether these people were either friends or foes, actuated 
by no other motive than that of pure humanity. I understand, 
from almost undoubted authority, that several of these persons 
have been taken up by their malicious neighbours, and sent to 
your quarters, where preparations are making for their being ill 
treated ; a report which I sincerely hope may be without found- 
ation. I repeat to you, sir, that my protections were given 
generally from a wish that, in the destruction of public stores, 
as little damage as possible might be done to private property, 
and to the persons of individuals ; but at any rate, I shall insist 
upon my signs manual being held sacred, and I am obliged to 
declare to you, sir, that if any persons, under the description I 
have given, receive ill treatment, I shall be under the necessity 
of sending to Petersburg, and giving that chastisement to the 
illiberal persecutors of innocent people, which their conduct 
shall deserve. And I further declare to you, sir, should any 
person be put to death, under the pretence of their being spies 
of, or friends to, the British government, I will make the shores 
of James River an example of terror to the rest of Virginia. 
It is from the violent measures, resolutions of the present house 
of delegates, council, and governor of Virginia, that I am im- 
pelled to use this language, which the common temper of my 
disposition is hurt at. I shall hope that you, sir, whom I have 
understood to be a gentleman of liberal principles, will not 
countenance, still less permit to be carried into execution, the 


barbarous spirit which seems to prevail in the coun?il of the 
present civil power of this colony. 

I do assure you, sir, I am extremely inclined to carry on this 
unfortunate contest with every decree of humanity, and 1 will 
believe you intend doing the sanit-. 

I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant, 



American camp, April 30th, 1781. 

SIR, Your letters of the 26th, 28th, and 29th. came yesterday 
to hand. The duplicate dated at Petersburg being rather of a 
private nature, it has been delivered to Major-General Baron 
de Steuben. I am sorry the mode of your request has delayed 
the civility that had been immediately intended. 

From the beginning of this war, which you observe is an un- 
fortunate one to Great Britain, the proceedings of the British 
troops have been hitherto so far from evincing benevolence of 
disposition, that your long absence* from the scene of action is 
the only way I have to account for your panegyrics. I give 

Cu my honour, sir, that the charge against a flag vessel shall 
strictly inquired into, and in case the report made to you is 
better grounded than the contrary one I have received, you 
shall obtain every redress in my power, that you have any right 
to expect. This complaint I beg leave to consider as the only 
part in your letter that requires an answer. Such articles as 
the requiring that the persons of spies be held sacred, cannot 
certainly be serious. 

The style of your letters, sir, obliges me to tell you, that 
should your future favours be wanting in that regard due to the 
civil and military authority in the United States, which cannot 
but be construed into a want of respect to the American nation, 
I shall not think it consistent with the dignity of an American 
officer to continue the correspondence. 

I have the honour to be, your most obedient servant, 


* General Phillips had been made prisoner at Saratoga. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 415 



May 3rd, 1781. 

SIR, Your assertion relating to the flag vessel was so positive, 
that it becomes necessary for me to set you right in this matter. 
Inclosed I have the honour to send you some depositions, by 
which it is clearly proved that there has been on our side no 
violation of flags. 

I have the honour to be, sir, your humble servant, 



May 15th, 1781. 

THE Major-General Marquis de Lafayette has the honour to 
present his compliments to Captain Emyne, and begs him to 
recollect that, on the supposition of the death of General 
Phillips, he said, " that he should know in that case what to 
do." From regard to the English army, he had made use of 
the most polite pretence for declining all correspondence with 
the English general who is at this moment commander-in-chief. 
But he now finds himself obliged to give a positive denial. la 
case any other English officer should honour him with a letter, 
he would always be happy to give the officers every testimony 
of his esteem. 


BRIGADIER-GENERAL ARNOLD presents his compliments to 
Captain Ragedale, and takes the liberty of informing him, that 
the flag of truce having been sent by Brigadier-General Nelson, 
who is not commander-in-chief of the American army, is an in- 
admissible act. The letters are accordingly sent back un- 
opened. If Captain Ragedale thinks proper to leave them with 
the servants, a receipt must be given for them. 

Brigadier-General Arnold has given orders that the officers 
lately taken in that place should be sent to New York ; their 
baggage will follow soon after them, and all the officers and 
soldiers of the American army that shall be taken prisoners in 
future, shall be sent to the West Indies, unless a cartel be im- 
mediately granted for the exchange of prisoners, as General 
Arnold has repeatedly demanded. 

Head-quarters, at Petersburg, 17th May, 1781. 




Richmond, May 24th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, My official letter, a copy of 
which I send to congress, will let you know the 
situation of affairs in this quarter. I ardently wish 
my conduct may meet with your approbation. Had 
I followed the first impulsion of my temper, I should 
have risked something more ; but I have been 
guarding against my own warmth ; and this consi- 
deration, that a general defeat, which, with such a 
proportion of militia, must be expected, would in- 
volve this state and our affairs in ruin, has ren- 
dered me extremely cautious in my movements. 
Indeed, I am more embarrassed to move, more 
crippled in my projects, than we have been in the 
northern states. 

As I am for the present fixed in the command of 
the troops in this state, I beg it as a great favour 
that you will send me Colonel Gouvion. Should a 
junction be made with General Greene, he will act 
as my aide-de-camp. Had the Pennsylvanians 
arrived before Lord Cornwallis, I was determined to 
attack the enemy, and have no doubt but what we 
should have been successful. Their unaccountable 
delay cannot be too much lamented, and will make 
an immense difference to the fate of this campaign. 
Should they have arrived time enough to support 
me in the reception of Lord Cornwallis's first stroke, 
I should still have thought it well enough ; but from 
an answer of General Wayne, received this day, and 
dated the 19th, I am afraid that at this moment 
they have hardly left York town. 

Public stores and private property being removed 
from Richmond, this place is a less important object. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 417 

I don't believe it would be prudent to expose the 
troops for the sake of a few houses, most of which 
are empty ; but I am wavering between two incon- 
veniences. Were I to fight a battle, I should be cut 
to pieces, the militia dispersed, and the arms lost. 
Were I to decline fighting, the country would think 
itself given up. I am therefore determined to 
skirmish, but not to engage too far, and particularly 
to take care against their immense and excellent 
body of horse, whom the militia fear as they would 
so many wild beasts. 

A letter from General Greene to General Sumner 
is dated 5th May, seven miles below Camden. The 
baron is going to him with some recruits, and will 
get more in North Carolina. When the Penn- 
sylvanians come, I am only to keep them a 
few days, which I will improve as well as I can. 
Cavalry is very necessary to us. I wish Lauzun's 
legion could come. I am sure he will like to serve 
with me, and as General Greene gave me command 
of the troops in this state, Lauzun might remain 
with me in Virginia. If not, Shelden's dragoons 
might be sent. As to Moylan, I do not believe he 
will be ready for a long time. 

Were I anyways equal to the enemy, I should be 
extremely happy in my present command, but I am 
not strong enough even to get beaten. Government 
in this state has no energy, and laws have no force. 
But I hope this assembly will put matters upon a 
better footing. I had a great deal of trouble to put 
the departments in a tolerable train ; our expenses 
were enormous, and yet we can get nothing. 
Arrangements for the present seem to put on a 
better face, but for this superiority of the enemy, 
which will chase us wherever they please. They 
can overrun the country, and, until the Pennsyl- 

VOL. I. E B 


vanians arrive, we are next to nothing in point of 
opposition to so large a force. This country begins 
to be as familiar to me as Tappan and Bergen. Our 
soldiers are hitherto very healthy : I have turned 
doctor, and regulate their diet. Adieu, my dear 
general. Let me hear sometimes from you ; your 
letters are a great happiness to your affectionate 
friend, &c. 


Camp, 28th June, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Inclosed, I have the honour 
to send you a copy of my letter to General Greene. 
The enemy have been so kind as to retire before 
us.* Twice I gave them a chance of fighting 
(taking care not to engage farther than I pleased), 
but they continued their retrograde motions. Our 

* It was the 20th of May that Lord Cornwallis effected his 
junction with the troops of Arnold, whose unexpected opposi- 
tion re-established the affairs of the English in Virginia. The 
war became from that moment extremely active, and the move- 
ments of the two armies very complicated. M. de Lafayette 
maintained his position, and experienced no other check than 
the loss of some magazines, at the forks of James River, which 
had been confided to the care of Baron Steuben. His position 
was, however, rather a defensive one, until the period at which 
that letter was written, when the English abandoned Richmond. 
Cornwallis obtained, and usually by the aid of negroes, the best 
horses of Virginia. He had mounted an advance-guard of 
Tarleton on race-hores, who, like birds of prey, seized all they 
met with, so that they had taken many couriers who were bearers 
of letters. Cornwallis stopped once during his retrograde march 
on Williamsburg ; the Americans being close to him, it was 
thought an affair would take place, but he continued on his road. 
It was before he reached Williamsburg that his rear-guard was 

1779, 1780, 1781. 419 

numbers are, I think, exaggerated to them, and our 
seeming boldness confirms the opinion. 

I thought, at first, Lord Cornwallis wanted to get 
me as low down as possible, and use his cavalry to 
advantage. But it appears that he does not as yet 
come out, and our position will admit of a partial 
atiair. His lordship had (exclusive of the rein- 
forcement from Portsmouth, said to be six hundred) 
four thousand men, eight hundred of whom were 
dragoons, or mounted infantry. Our force is about 
equal to his, but only one thousand five hundred 
regulars and fi f ty dragoons. Our little action more 
particularly marks the retreat of the enemy. From 
the place whence he first began to retire to Williams- 
burg is upwards of one hundred miles. The old arms 
at the Point of Fork have been taken out of the water. 
The cannon was thrown into the river, undamaged, 
when they marched back to Richmond ; so that his 
lordship did us no harm of any consequence, but lost 

attacked by the advance corps of Lafayette under Colonel Butler. 
He evacuated Williamsburg the 4th; Lafayette had done all he 
could to convince him that his own forces were more considerable 
than they really were. Either the night of, or two nights before, 
the evacuation of Williamsburg, a double spy had taken a false 
order of the day to Lord Cornwallis, found, he said, in the 
camp, which ordered General Morgan's division to take a cer- 
tain position in the line. The fact was, that General Morgan 
had arrived in person, but unaccompanied by troops. Dr. 
Gordon justly observes, that Lord Cornwallis, from Charles- 
town to Williamsburg, had made more than eleven hundred miles, 
without counting deviations, which amounts, reckoning those de- 
viations, to five hundred leagues. The whole march through 
North Carolina and Virginia, and the campaign against Lafayette, 
were effected without tents or equipages, which confers honour 
on the activity of Lord Cornwallis, and justifies the reputation 
he had acquired, of being the best British general employed in 
that war. (Extract of Manuscript, No. 2.) 

E 2 


an immense part of his former conquests, and did not 
make any in this state. General Greene only de- 
manded of me to hold my ground in Virginia. But 
the movements of Lord Cornwallis may answer better 
purposes than that in the political line. Adieu, my 
dear general; I don't know but what we shall, in our 
turn, become the pursuing enemy ; and in the mean- 
while, have the honour to be, &c. 


Ambler's Plantation, July 8th, 1781. 

THE inclosed copy, my dear general, will give you 
an account of our affairs in this quarter. Agreeably 
to your orders I have avoided a general action, and 
when Lord Cornwallis's movements indicated that it 
was against his interest to fight, I ventured partial 
engagements. His lordship seems to have given 
up the conquest of Virginia. It has been a great 
secret that our army was not superior, and was most 

* From Williamsburg, the English retreated towards Ports- 
mouth, near the mouth of James River, and consequently 
not far from Chesapeak Bay. The sea was open to them, and 
those repeated retrograde movements seemed to indicate the 
project of evacuating Virginia. M. de Lafayette, therefore, 
when he learnt that they were embarking on board their ships, 
never doubted but that their intention was to leave that part of the 
country, to repair, in all probability, to New York. But it became 
evident, at the same time, that if those naval forces appeared 
upon the coast, they would be blockaded without any means of 
escape. This is what occasioned their inexplicable and un- 
hoped for retreat upon Yorktown and Gloucester. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 421 

generally inferior, to the enemy's numbers. Our 
returns were swelled up, as militia returns generally 
are ; but we had very few under arms, particularly 
lately, and to conceal the lessening of our numbers, I 
was obliged to push on as one who had heartily 
wished a general engagement. Our regulars did 
not exceed one thousand five hundred, the enemy 
had four thousand regulars, eight hundred of whom 
were mounted : they thought we had eight thousand 
men. I never encamped in a line, and there was 
greater difficulty to come at our numbers. 

Malvan Hill, July 20th. 

WHEN I went to the southward, you know I had 
some private objections ; but I became sensible of 
the necessity there was for the detachment to go, 
and I knew that had I returned there was nobody 
that could lead them on against their inclination. 
My entering this state was happily marked by a 
service to the capital. Virginia became the grand 
object of the enemy, as it was the point to which 
the ministry tended. I had the honour to command 
an army and oppose Lord Cornwallis. When in- 
comparably inferior to him, fortune was pleased to 
preserve us ; when equal in numbers, though not 
in quality of troops, we have also been pretty lucky. 
Cornwallis had the disgrace of a retreat, and this state 
being recovered, government is properly re-estab- 
lished. The enemy are under the protection of their 
works at Portsmouth. It appears an embarkation 
is taking place, probably destined to New York. 
The war in this state would then become a plunder- 
ing one, and great manoeuvres be out of the ques- 
tion. A prudent officer would do our business here, 
and the baron is prudent to the utmost. Would 
it be possible, my dear general, in case a part of 


the British troops go to New York, I may be 
allowed to join the combined armies ? 

Malvan Hill, July 20th. 

No accounts from the northward, no letter from 
head quarters. I am entirely a stranger to every 
thing that passes out of Virginia ; and Virginian 
operations being for the present in a state of languor, 
I have more time to think of my solitude ; in a word, 
my dear general, I am home sick, and if I cannot go 
to head quarters, wish at least to hear from thence. 
I am anxious to know your opinion concerning the 
Virginian campaign. That the subjugation of this 
state was the great object of the ministry is an 
indisputable fact. I think your diversion has been 
of more use to the state than my manoeuvres ; but 
the latter have been much directed by political 
views. So long as my lord wished for an action, 
not one gun has been fired ; the moment he declined 
it, we have been skirmishing ; but I took care never 
to commit the army. His naval superiority, his 
superiority of horse, of regulars, his thousand ad- 
vantages over us, so that I am lucky to have come off 
safe. I had an eye upon European negotiations, and 
made it a point to give his lordship the disgrace of 
a retreat. 

From every account it appears that a part of the 
army will embark. The light infantry, the guards, 
the 80th regiment, and the Queen's rangers, are, it is 
said, destined to New York. Lord Cornwallis, I am 
told, is much disappointed in his hopes of command. 
I cannot find out what he does with himself. Should 
he go to England, we are, I think, to rejoice for it ; 
he is a cold and active man, two dangerous qualities 
in this southern war. 

The clothing you have long ago sent to the light 

1779, 1780 ? 1781. 423 

infantry is not yet arrived. I have been obliged to 
send for it, and expect it in a few days. These 
three battalions are the best troops that ever took the 
field ; my confidence in them is unbounded ; they are 
far superior to any British troops, and none will 
ever venture to meet them in equal numbers. What 
a pity these men are not employed along with the 
French grenadiers ; they would do eternal honour 
to our arms. But their presence here, I must con- 
fess, has saved this state, and, indeed, the southern 
part of the continent. 

Malvan Hill, July 26th. 

I HAD some days ago the honour to write to your 
excellency, and informed you that a detachment 
from the British army would probably embark at 
Portsmouth. The battalions of light infantry and the 
Queen's rangers were certainly, and the guards, with 
one or two British regiments, were likely to be, 
ordered upon that service. My conjectures have 
proved true, and forty-nine sail have fallen down in 
Hampton-road, the departure of which I expect to 
hear every minute. A British officer, a prisoner, lately 
mentioned that Lord Cornwallis himself was going. 
It appears the enemy have some cavalry on board. 
The conquest of Virginia, and the establishment of 
the British power in this state, not having succeeded 
to the expectation of the British court, a lesser num- 
ber might be sufficient for the present purpose, and 
two thousand men easily spared. So that I do not 
believe the present embarkation is under that num- 
ber ; so far as a land force can oppose naval opera- 
tions and naval superiority, I think the position 
now occupied by the main body of our small army 
affords the best chance to support the several parts 
of Virginia. 


Mai van Hill, July 30th. 

SOME expressions in your last favour will, if pos- 
sible, augment my vigilance in keeping you well 
apprised of the enemy's movements.* There are in 
Hampton-road thirty transport ships full of troops, 
most of them red coats. There are eight or ten 
brigs which have cavalry on board, they had ex- 
cellent winds and yet they are not gone. Some say 
they have received advices from New York in a 
row boat : the escort, as I mentioned before, is the 
Charon, and several frigates, the last account says 
seven. I cannot be positive, and do not even think 
Lord Cornwallis has been fully determined. 

I.have sent, by a safe hand, to call out some militia, 
mount some cannon at the passes, and take out of 
the way every boat which might serve the enemy 
to go to North Carolina. You know, my dear 
general, that, with a very trifling transportation, 

* The 13th, Washington, who was then at Dobb's Ferry, 
while congratulating M. de Lafayette on his success, announced 
to him the junction of his army with that of Rochambeau, and 
that very important information would be carried to him by a 
confidential officer. He recommended to him to concentrate 
his forces, and obtain means of corresponding with him. The 
15th, he apprised him that the Count de Grasse intended quit- 
ting St. Domingo on the 3rd, with his fleet, to proceed to the 
Chesapeak, and prescribed to him to shut out from Lord Corn- 
wallis all retreat on North Carolina. He added, " You shall 
hear further from me." The 30th, he no longer concealed his 
intention of marching to the south. But he only announced on 
the 21st of August that his troops were actually on their march. 
While recurring to the necessity of inclosing the enemy on 
every side, he ended by saying, " The particular mode I shall 
not at this distance attempt to dictate ; your own knowledge of 
the country, from your long continuance in it, and the various 
and extended movements you have made, have given you great 
opportunities for observation ; of which I am persuaded your 
military genius and judgment will lead you to make the best 
improvement." (Letters of Washington, vol. viii.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 425 

they may go by water from Portsmouth to Wil- 
mington. The only way to shut up that passage 
is, to have an army before Portsmouth, and possess 
the heads of these rivers, a movement which, unless 
I was certain of a naval superiority, might prove 
ruinous. But should a fleet come in Hampton- 
road, and should I get some days' notice, our situa- 
tion would be very agreeable. 

Malvan Hill, July 31. 

A CORRESPONDENT of mine, servant to Lord Corn- 
wallis, writes on the 26th of July, at Portsmouth, 
and says his master, Tarleton, and Simcoe, are still 
in town, but expect to move. The greatest part of 
the army is embarked. My lord's baggage is yet in 
town. His lordship is so shy of his papers that 
my honest friend says he cannot get at them. There 
is a large quantity of negroes, but, it seems, no 
vessels to take them off. What garrison they leave 
I do not know : I shall take care at least to keep 
them within bounds. . . . Should a French fleet now 
come in Hampton Road, the British army would, I 
think, be ours. 

Camp on Pamunkey, August 6. 

THE embarkation which I thought, and do still 
think, to have been destined for New York, was re- 
ported to have sailed up the bay, and to be bound 
for Baltimore ; in consequence of which I wrote to 
your excellency, and as I had not indulged myself 
too near Portsmouth, I was able to cut across to- 
wards Fredericksburg. But, instead of continuing 
his voyage up the bay, my lord entered York River, 
and landed at York and Gloucester. To the former 
vessels were added a number of flat-bottomed boats. 


Our movements have not been precipitate. We \sere 
in time to take our course down Pamunkey River, 
and shall move to some position where the several 
parts of the army will unite. I have some militia 
in Gloucester county, some about York. We shall 
act agreeably to circumstances, but avoid drawing 
ourselves into a false movement, which, if cavalry 
had command of the rivers, would give the enemy 
the advantage of us. His lordship plays so well, 
that no blunder can be hoped from him to recover 
a bad step of ours. 

York is surrounded by the river and a morass ; 
the entrance is but narrow 7 . There is, however, a 
commanding hill, (at least, I am so informed,) which, 
if occupied by the enemy, would much extend their 
works. Gloucester is a neck of land projected into 
the river, and opposite to York. Their vessels, the 
biggest of whom is a forty-four, are between the 
two towns. Should a fleet come in at this moment, 
our affairs would take a very happy turn. 

New Kent Mountain, August 11. 

BE sure, my dear general, that the pleasure of being 
with you will make me happy in any command you 
may think proper to give me ; but for the present 
I am of opinion, with you, I had better remain in 
Virginia, the more so, as Lord Cornwallis does not 
choose to leave us, and circumstances may happen 
that will furnish me agreeable opportunities in the 
command of the Virginian army. I have pretty 
well understood you, my dear general, but would be 
happy in a more minute detail, which, I am sen- 
sible, cannot be entrusted to letters. Would not 
Gouvion be a proper ambassador? indeed, at all 
events, I should be happy to have him with me ; 

1779, 1780, 1781. 427 

but I think he would perfectly well answer your 
purpose ; a gentleman in your family could with 
difficulty be spared. Should something be ascer- 
tained, Count Damas might come, under pretence 
to serve with me ; it is known he is very much my 
friend. But, to return to operations in Virginia, I 
will tell you, my dear general, that Lord Cornwallis 
is entrenching at York and at Gloucester. The 
sooner we disturb him, the better ; but unless our 
maritime friends give us help, we cannot much 
venture below. 

Forks of York River, August 21. 

THE greater part of the enemy are at York, which 
they do not as yet fortify, but are very busy upon 
Gloucester neck, where they have a pretty large 
corps under Colonel Dundas. They have at York 
a forty-four gun ship ; frigates and vessels are scat- 
tered lower down. There is still a small garrison 
at Portsmouth. Should they intend to evacuate, 
they at least are proceeding with amazing slowness. 
From the enemy's preparations, I should infer that 
they are working for the protection of one fleet, and 
for a defence against another ; that in case they 
hold Portsmouth, the main body would be at York, 
and a detached corps upon Gloucester neck to pro- 
tect the water battery. Their fortifications are much 
contracted. From the enemy's caution and partial 
movements, I should conclude their intelligence is 
not very good, and that they wish to come at an 
explanation of my intentions and prospects. 

We have hitherto occupied the forks of York 
River, thereby looking both ways. Some militia 
have prevented the enemy's parties from remaining 
any time at or near \Yilliamsburg, and false ac- 


counts have given them some alarms. Another 
body of militia, under Colonel Ennis, has kept them 
pretty close in Gloucester town, and foraged in 
their vicinity. Upon the receipt of your orders, 
I wrote to the governor, that intelligence of some 
plans of the enemy rendered it proper to have 
six hundred militia collected upon Blackwater. I 
wrote to General Gregory, near Portsmouth, that I 
had an account that the enemy intended to push a 
detachment to Carolina, which would greatly defeat 
a scheme we had there. I have requested General 
Wayne to move towards the southward, to he ready 
to cross James River at Westover. A battalion of 
Jight infantry, and our only hundred dragoons, being 
in Gloucester county, I call them my vanguard, and 
will take my quarters there for one or two days, 
while the troops are filing off towards James River. 
Our little army will consequently assemble again 
upon the waters of Chickahonimy ; and should 
Jamestown Island be thought a good place for a 
junction, we shall be in a situation to form it, while 
we render it more difficult for the enemy to attempt 
a journey to Carolina.* 

* After the arrival of Lord Cornwallis at York, General La- 
fayette asked Colonel Barber for a faithful and an intelligent 
soldier, whom he could send as a spy into the English camp. 
Morgan, of the New Jersey line, was pointed out to him. The 
general sent for him, and proposed to him the difficult task of 
going over to the enemy as a deserter, and enrolling himself in 
their army. Morgan answered, that he was ready to do every- 
thing for his country and his general, but that to act the part 
of a spy was repugnant to all his feelings ; he did not fear for 
his life, but for his name, which might be blotted with an eternal 
stain. He ended, however, by yielding, but on condition, that 
in case of any misfortune, the general would make the truth 
known, and publish all the particulars of the case in the New 
Jersey papers. M. de Lafayette promised this should be done. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 429 

In the present state of affairs, my dear general, I 
hope you will come yourself to Virginia, and that, 
if the French army moves this way, I will have, at 
least, the satisfaction of beholding you myself at 
the head of the combined armies. In two days I 
will write again to your excellency, and keep you 
particularly and constantly informed, unless some- 
thing is done the very moment (and it will probably 
be difficult). Lord Cornwallis must be attacked 
with pretty great apparatus. But when a French 

Morgan then proceeded to the English camp. His mission 
was to give advice of the movements of the enemy, and deceive 
them as to the projects and resources of the Americans. He 
had not been long with the English, when Cornwallis sent for 
him, and questioned him, in the presence of Tarleton, upon the 
means General Lafayette might have of crossing south of James 
River. Morgan replied, according to his private instructions, 
that he had a sufficient number of boats, on the first signal, to 
cross the river, with his whole army. " In that case," said 
Cornwallis to Tarleton, " what I said to you cannot be done ;" 
alluding, in all probability, to an intended march upon North 
Carolina. After the arrival of the French fleet, M. de Lafayette, 
on his return from a reconnoitring party, found in his quarters 
six men dressed in the English uniform, and a Hessian dressed 
in green : Morgan was amongst them, bringing back five de- 
serters and a prisoner : he no longer thought his services as 
a spy could be of any use to his country. The next day, the 
general offered him, as a recompence, the rank of sergeant. 
Morgan thanked him, but declined the offer, saying that he 
thought himself a good soldier, but was not certain of being a 
good sergeant. Other offers were also refused. " What can I 
then do for you ?" inquired the general. " I have only one 
favour to ask," replied Morgan. " During my absence, my gun 
has been taken from me ; I value it very much, and I should 
like to have it back again." Orders were given that the gun 
should be found and restored to him : this was the only thing 
he could be prevailed on to receive. Mr. Sparks, who pub- 
lished this anecdote, " says he heard it related, fifty years after 
it had occurred, by General Lafayette, who still expressed great 
admiration for that soldier's noble feelings and disinterested 
conduct." (Washington's Writings, vol. viii., p. 152.") 


fleet takes possession of the bay and rivers, and we 
form a land force superior to his, that army must, 
sooner or later, be forced to surrender, as we may 
get what reinforcements we please. 

Adieu, my dear general ; I heartily thank you for 
having ordered me to remain in Virginia ; it is to 
your goodness that I am indebted for the most beau- 
tiful prospect which I may ever behold. 


Camp, between the branches of York River, 
August 24, 1781. 

THE residence of Virginia is anything but favourable 
to my correspondence. I do not accuse public 
affairs of this evil ; and as I find so much time to 
think of my affection for you, I could doubtless 
find some, also, to assure you of it ; but there are 
no opportunities here of sending letters, and we are 
obliged to despatch them to Philadelphia and expose 
them to many hazards; these dangers, in addition 
to those of the sea, and the increased delay they 
occasion, must necessarily render the arrival of 
letters far more difficult. If you receive a greater 
number from the French than from the Virginian 
army, it would be unjust to imagine that I have 
been to blame. 

Your self-love has, perhaps, been gratified by the 
part I have been obliged to act: you may have 
hoped that I could not be equally awkward on 
every theatre ; but I should accuse you of an 
egregious degree of vanity (for all things being in 
common between us, there is vanity in rating me 
too highly) if you have not trembled for the perils 

1779, 1780, 1781. 

to which I have been exposed. I am not speaking 
of cannon balls, but of the more dangerous master- 
strokes with which I was threatened by Lord Corn- 
wallis. It was not prudent in the general to con- 
fide to me such a command. If I had been unfor- 
tunate, the public would have called that partiality 
an error in his judgment. 

To begin, even from the deluge, I must speak 
to you of that miserable Portsmouth expedition. 
General Rochambeau had intended sending a thou- 
sand Frenchmen there, under the Baron de Vio- 
menil. You must have heard that the French 
squadron gained a great deal of glory, whilst the 
English attained their desired end. Admiral 
Arbuthnot will since have informed you that I was 
blockaded ; but, although we were not sailors, that 
blockade did not detain us four hours. You will 
have learnt, afterwards, that General Phillips having 
made some preparations at Portsmouth, we marched 
in all haste to Richmond, where we arrived nearly 
at the same time ; but I arrived first. They then 
came from New York and Carolina to unite with 
the Virginian troops ; the whole was commanded 
by the formidable Lord Cornwallis, who abandoned 
his first conquests to fulfil the ministerial plan by 
the conquest of Virginia. It was not without some 
difficulty that we avoided the battle he wished for ; 
but, after many marches, we became stronger than 
we were at the commencement, and we pretended 
to be stronger than we were ; we regained what we 
had lost without risking a battle, and, after two 
trifling affairs, the hostile army proceeded to Ports- 
mouth, which it has since evacuated, and whose 
fortifications we have destroyed. That army is now 
in York River, whither they repaired by water. If 
the naval superiority which we are so fully expecting 


should arrive, I shall rejoice at the campaign closing 
by the English army's assuming that position. 

The French and American troops before New 
York are under the orders of the generalissimo. My 
friend Greene has had great success in Carolina, and 
that campaign has taken a far better turn than we 
had any reason to expect or hope. It may perhaps 
end in a very favourable manner. It is said that the 
British ministry are sending here the Governor of 
Virginia; I fancy they have founded rather too many 
hopes upon the success of their army. The Penn- 
sylvanians, who were to have joined them, are at 
present here with us. But for the virtue, zeal, and 
courage of the regular troops who were with me, it 
would have been impossible for me to have saved 
myself. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude 
to those with whom I have undertaken this fatiguing 
campaign. The militia have done all they could. 
1 have been well pleased with our little army, and 
only hope it may have been also pleased with me. 

I must speak of my health, which is a monotonous 
subject, for I need only repeat favourable accounts 
of my own constitution : the sun of Virginia has a 
very bad character, and I had received many alarm- 
ing predictions ; many persons, in truth, have had 
fevers ; but this climate agrees with me as well as 
any other, and the only effect fatigue has upon me 
is to increase my appetite. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 433 


Camp, between the branches of York River, 
August 24th, 1781. 

WHEN a person, sir, has Lord Cornwallis in front 
and is flying through the sands of Virginia, he must 
depend upon others to give circumstantial news of 
America. Ever since the guidance of this army has 
been entrusted to me, I have found myself five 
hundred miles from any other troops, and all 
accounts of the war, of General Washington, and of 
congress, are an immense time in reaching me ; but 
you have the Chevalier de la Luzerne, and you 
could not have a better informer. There is only 
one point on which I cannot depend on any person 
to speak for me, and that is when I am assuring 
you of the affectionate and devoted attachment I 
shall feel for you during the remainder of my life. 

To execute the gigantic project which his court 
has planned, Lord Cornwallis was obliged to leave 
exposed both the Carolinas. General Greene took 
ample advantage of this circumstance. It is true 
that the hostile army bore on every point upon us, 
and all depended upon our having the good luck to 
avoid a battle : fortune served us well, and after a 
few junctions, our little army regained all the ground 
whose conquest had occasioned so many sacrifices. 
In the other states we manoeuvred rather than 
fought. Lord Cornwallis has left us Portsmouth, 
from whence he communicated with Carolina, and 
finds himself at present at York, which would be a 
very advantageous station for us, if we possessed a 
naval superiority : if that should by chance arrive, 
our little army would enjoy successes which would 
amply compensate for this long and fatiguing cam- 
paign : I should not, in that case, regret our 

VOL. I. F F 


last movements having placed us in our present 

I can only speak to you of myself, sir, or of the 
English army, for all other accounts will reach you 
at Versailles almost as soon as they do me in this 
remote corner of Virginia. It is reported that you 
are going to make peace, hut I am not very cre- 
dulous on this point, and I fancy that they will at 
least await the end of this campaign. 

Tliis is a large packet, sir, but I do not fear 
taking advantage of your kindness, as I well know 
the full extent ; I flatter myself I merit it as much 
as it is possible for any person to do so, by the feel- 
ings of confidence and respectful affection with 
which I remain, &c. 

I beg you to present my kind compliments to the 
Countess de Vergennes, and to your sons. 


Cainp, between the branches of the York River, 

August 24th, 1781. 

WHILST I am thus, sir, more than ever separated 
from the rest of the world, I am not less occupied 
with the persons I love, and who honour me with 
their kindness and attention. I owe you st) much 
gratitude, and feel so much attached to you, that I 
wish to recal sometimes to your recollection the 
rebel commander of the little Virginian army. In- 
terested for me, sir, as I know you are, you would 
have been alarmed by the important part my youth 
has been called upon to act : five hundred miles 
from any other corps, and without any resources 
whatever, I was placed to oppose the projects of the 
court of St. James's and the good fortune of Lord 

1779, 1780, 1781. 435 

Cornwallis. Until the present moment, we have 
not met with any disasters ; but, in a time of war, no 
person can tell what events may occur on the fol- 
lowing day. Lord Cornwallis pursued us without 
succeeding in taking us, and after a variety of move- 
ments, he is now in the good York harbour ; who 
knows whether his manoeuvres may not end by 
making us prisoners of war ? 

As I do not know what vessel may bear this des- 
patch, I will neither dwell upon our projects nor our 
hopes ; the Chevalier de la Luzerne, who knows 
every opportunity for France, will inform you of all 
that passes here ; for my part, I am lost in the sands 
of Virginia, living only by my wits, and correspond- 
ing with Lord Cornwallis only. This letter, sir, is 
merely intended to recal me to your remembrance, 
and to offer you the assurance of my respectful and 
affectionate regard. 

Will you permit me, sir, to present my respects 
to the Countess de Maurepas and Madame de Fla- 
marens ? 



Holt's Forge, 1st Sept., 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, From the bottom of my heart 
I congratulate you upon the arrival of the French 
fleet. Some rumours had been spread, and spy ac- 
counts sent out, but no certainty until the admirars 

* Washington having finally adopted the project of uniting 
the land and sea forces against the army of Cornwallis, which 
had so fortunately stationed itself in the position most favour- 
able to a naval attack, it was still important and difficult to pre- 
vent him from reaching Carolina, and thus ruining the campaign 
of the allied powers. It was to attain this end, that Lafayette 



despatches came to hand. Inclosed I send you his 
letter, and that of M. de St. Simon, both of whom 
I request you will have translated by Tilghman or 
Gouvion alone, as there are parts of them personal, 
which I do not choose to shew to others. Thanks 
to you, my dear general, I am in a very charming 
situation, and find myself at the head of a beautiful 
body of troops ; but am not so hasty as the Count 
de Grasse, and think that, having so sure a game 
to play, it would be madness, by the risk of an at- 
tack, to give anything to chance. 

It appears Count de Grasse is in a great hurry to 
return; he makes it a point to put upon my 'ex- 
pressions such constructions as may favour his plan. 
They have been pleased to adopt my ideas, as to the 
sending of vessels into James River, and forming a 

had despatched troops to the south of James River, under pre- 
tence of dislodging the English from Portsmouth ; this move- 
ment had also the good effect of uniting to the corps of the 
army the troops and artillery who could escape by Albemarle 
Sound on the arrival of the Count de Grasse. With the same 
view, he detained troops on the south of James River, on pre- 
tence of sending General Wayne and his Pennsylvanians to the 
southern army to reinforce General Greene. No person was in 
the secret, and the enemy could not, therefore, be undeceived. 
It was at that period that he sent them the pretended deserter, 
Morgan. In short, after having manoeuvred for several months 
to lead his opponent into the spot that would best allow him to 
take advantage of a naval co-operation, he manoeuvred at last 
so as to prevent his enemy from withdrawing when he became 
conscious of his danger. His precautions in this respect were 
more necessary from Lord Cornwallis knowing that a large 
French fleet was expected in North America. The moment 
the Count de Grasse arrived, Lafayette marched on rapidly to 
Williamsburg, and effected a junction with a corps of three 
thousand men belonging to the Marquis de St. Simon. As 
soon as he landed at Jamestown, he crossed the river, united 
Wayne's corps to his own, and assembled, on the other side of 
York River* opposite to Gloucester, a corps of militia. The 

1779, 1780, 1781. 437 

junction at Jamestown. I wish they may also 
force the passage at York, because then his lordship 
has no possibility of escape. 

The delay of Count de Grasse's arrival, the 
movement of the grand army, and the alarm there 
was at York, have forced me, for greater security, 
to send a part of the troops to the south side of 
James River. To-morrow and the day after will 
be employed in making dispositions for covering a 
landing, which will be done with continentals dis- 
cumbered of baggage ; and on the 5th, agreeable to 
the count's desire, a junction will be made of our 
troops. I shall then propose to the French general 
the taking of a safe position, within ten or twelve 
miles of York ; such a one as cannot be forced 
without a much greater loss than we could suffer. 

English array thus found itself enclosed on every side, and no 
possible means of safety were left to Lord Cornwallis but by 
his undertaking a very perilous enterprise. He reconnoitred, 
however, the position of Williamsburg, with the intention of 
attacking it. It was a well chosen station : two creeks, or small 
rivers, throwing themselves, one into James, the other into York 
River, almost enclosed the peninsula on that point ; it was ne- 
cessary to force two well defended passages ; two houses and 
two public buildings of Williamsburg, both of stone, were well 
placed to defend the front. There were five thousand French 
and American troops, a large corps of militia, and a well served 
campaign artillery. Lord Cornwallis thought he ought not to 
hazard an attack. He might have crossed over to Gloucester, 
or have ascended York River, the Count de Grasse having neg- 
lected tj place vessels above that point, but he must have 
abandoned, in that case, his artillery, magazines, and invalids, 
and measures had been taken to cut off his road in several 
places; he determined, therefore, to await the attack. He 
might have had, in truth, the chance of a combat, if Lafayette 
had yielded to some tempting solicitations. The Count de 
Grasse was in a hurry to return ; the idea of waiting for the 
northern troops and generals was intolerable to him ; he en- 
treated Lafayette to attack the English army, with the American 


And, unless matters are very different from what I 
think they are, my opinion is, that we ought to be 
contented with preventing the enemy's forages, and 
fatiguing them by alarming their picquets with 
militia, without committing our regulars. What- 
ever readiness the Marquis de St. Simon has been 
pleased to express to Colonel Gimat, respecting 
his being under me, I shall do nothing without 
paying that deference which is due to age, talents, 
and experience ; but would rather incline to the 
cautious line of conduct I have of late adopted. 
General Portail must be now with Count de Grasse. 
He knows your intentions, and our course will be 
consulted in our movements. 

Lord Cornwallis has still one way to escape ; he 
may land at West Point, and cross James River, 

and French troops that were under his command, offering, for 
that purpose, not only the detachments which formed the garri- 
sons of the ships, but also as many sailors as he should demand. 
The Marquis de St. Simon, who although subordinate to La- 
fayette from the date of his commission, was much his senior in 
point of age and service, joined earnestly in the admiral's re- 
quest. He represented that Lord Cornwallis's works were not 
yet comp eted, and that an attack of superior forces would soon, 
in all probability, take Yorktown, and afterwards Gloucester. 
The temptation was great for the young general of the com- 
bined army, who was scarcely four-and-twenty years of age ; 
he had an unanswerable pretence for taking such a step in the 
declaration made by M. de Grasse, that he could not wait for the 
northern generals and forces ; but this attack, which, if success- 
ful, would have been so brilliant, must necessarily have cost a 
great deal of blood. Lafayette would not sacrifice to his per- 
eonala mbition the sold ierswho had been confided to him ; and, 
refusing the request of the Count de Grasse, he onlv endea- 
voured to persuade him to await the arrival of General Wash- 
ington, accompanied by the Generals Rochambeau and Lin- 
coln, seniors of Lafayette ; by this means the reduction of the 
army of Cornwallis became a secure and by no means costly 
operation. (Note extracted from Manuscript, No. 2.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 439 

some miles below Point of Fork; but I thought this 
part was the most important, as the other route is 
big with obstacles. However, to prevent even a 
possibility, I would wish some ships were above 

The governor* was with me when the letters 
came ; he jumped upon a horse, and posted off to 
his council. I gave him a memorandum, demand- 
ing provisions of every kind for the fleet and the 
combined army. We may depend upon a quantity 
of cattle, but flour ought to be sent from Maryland 
and Pennsylvania. Chevalier d'Annemours, the 
French consul, is here, and will take a method to 
have his countrymen supplied without starving us. 

Upon a particular inquiry of the country, and 
our circumstances, I hope you will find we have 
taken the best precautions to lessen his lordship's 
chances to escape ; he has a few left, but so very 
precarious, that I hardly believe he will make the 
attempt ; if he does, he must give up ships, artillery, 
baggage, part of the horses, all the negroes ; he must 
be certain to lose the third of his army, and run the 
greatest risk to lose the whole, without gaining that 
glory which he may derive from a brilliant defence. 

Adieu, my dear general, the agreeable situation I 
am in is owing to your friendship, and is, for that 
reason, the dearer to your respectful servant and 

* The governor of Virginia? Jefferson. 




Williamsburg, September 8, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I had the honour to write 
you lately, giving an account of everything that 
came within my knowledge. I was every hour ex- 
pecting 1 might be more particular ; but if you knew 
how slowly things go on in this country; still I 
have done the best in my power ; I have written 
and received twenty letters a day from government 
and from every department. The governor does 
what he can : the wheels of his government are 
so very rusty that no governor whatever will be 
able to set them free again. Time will prove 
that Jefferson has been too severely charged. The 
French troops, my dear general, have landed with 
amazing celerity ; they have already been wanting 
flour, meat and salt, not so much, however, as to 
be one day without. I have been night and day 
the quarter-master collector, and have drawn my- 
self into a violent head-ache and fever, which will 
go off with three hours' sleep, the want of which 
has occasioned it. This, my dear general, will 
apologize to you for not writing with my own 
hand. The French army is composed of the most 
excellent regiments : they have with them a corps 
of hussars, which may be of immediate use. The 
general and all the officers have cheerfully lived in 
the same way as our poorly provided American 
detachment. I think a letter from you on the sub- 
ject will have a very good effect. Last night by 
leaving our own baggage, and accepting of our 
officers' horses, we have been able to move to a 
position near Williamsburg : it is covered along the 

1779, 1780, 1781. 441 

front with ravines ; the right flank is covered by 
a mill-pond, on the road to Jamestown ; the left by 
Queen's Creek, small rivulets, and marshes. We 
have militia still in front of our right and left, and 
a good look out on the river. Our provisions may 
come to the capital landing. Williamsburg and its 
strong buildings are in our front. I have upon the 
lines General Muhlenberg with one thousand men, 
four hundred of whom are Virginian regulars, and 
one hundred dragoons. In borrowing White's 
unequipped horses we may add one hundred hus- 
sars. There is a line of armed ships along James 
River, and a small reserve of militia, which may in- 
crease every day : there are in Gloucester county 
eight hundred militia driving off stock. I had re- 
commended, with proper delicacy, to Count de 
Grasse to send some naval forces up York River; the 
French armed vessels in Pamunkey are come down 
to West Point. No movement of Count de Grasse 
has as yet taken place, except some ships below 
York. Your excellency's letter to him has been 
duly forwarded ; we are under infinite obligations 
to the officers and the men for their zeal. 

I entered into these particular accounts, my dear 
general, in order to show you that propriety, and not 
the desire to advance, has dictated our measures. 
We will try, if not dangerous, upon a large scale, to 
form a good idea of the works ; but, unless I am 
greatly deceived, there will be madness in attacking 
them now with our force. Marquis de St. Simon, 
Count de Grasse, and General du Portail, agree with 
me in opinion ; but should Lord Cornwallis come 
out against such a position as we have, everybody 
thinks that he cannot but repent of it ; and should 
he beat us, he must soon prepare for another 


Now, my dear general, I am going to speak to 
you of the fortifications at York. Lord Cornwallis 
is working day and night, and will soon work him- 
self into a respectable situation : he has taken 
ashore the greater part of his sailors ; he is picking 
up whatever provisions he can get. I am told he 
has ordered the inhabitants in the vicinity of the 
town to come in, and should think they may do him 
much good. Our present position will render him 
cautious, and I think it a great point. No news 
as yet in this camp of the fleet of M. le Comte de 

I will now answer you that part of your letter re- 
specting provisions for the troops under your im- 
mediate command. 

With respect to a proper place for the debarkation 
of your troops, it is the opinion of the Marquis de 
St. Simon, and mine, that it must be in James River, 
but we have not had an opportunity yet of fixing 
on the best spot : it appears, however, that it must 
be at or near Williamsburg or Jamestown. 

With the most affectionate regard and esteem, I 
am ; dear general, &c. 

* Marshall speaks of the departure of the Count de Barras 
for the Chesapeak, and of his arrival with the artillery of the siege ; 
that the admiral had received a letter from the minister of the 
marine, the Marshal de Castries, who, informing him of the orders 
given to M. de Grasse to proceed to the coasts of the United 
States, left him free to make a cruise on the banks of New- 
foundland, not wishing to oblige him to serve under his junior, 
to whom the minister had entrusted the command. But M. de 
Barras nobly determined to convey himself and the artillery to 
Rhode Island, and to range himself, with all his vessels, undei 
the command of an admiral less ancient than himself. Manu- 
script, No. 2.) 

1779, 1780, 1781. 443 



Camp before York, October 16, 1781. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, Your excellency having per- 
sonally seen our dispositions, I shall only give an 
account of what passed in the execution. 

Colonel Gimat's battalion led the van, and was 
followed by that of Colonel Hamilton's, who com- 
manded the whole advanced corps; at the same time, 
a party of eighty men, under Colonel Laurens, 
turned the redoubt. I beg leave to refer your 
excellency to the report I have received from 
Colonel Hamilton, whose well known talents and 
gallantry were on this occasion most conspicuous 
and serviceable. Our obligations to him, to Colonel 
Gimat, to Colonel Laurens, and to each and all the 
officers and men, are above expression. Not one 
gun was fired, and the ardour of the troops did not 
give time for the sappers to derange them, and, 
owing to the conduct of the commanders and the 
bravery of the men, the redoubt was stormed with 
uncommon rapidity. 

Colonel Barber's battalion, which was the first in 
the supporting column, being detached to the aid of 
the advance, arrived at the moment they were get- 
ting over the works, and executed their orders with 
the utmost alacrity. The colonel was slightly 
wounded : the rest of the column under General 
Muhlenberg and Hazen advanced with admirable 

* It was the 13th of September that General Washington had 
operated his junction with General Lafayette, and the 28th the 
place of York was invaded. The assault was given on the 15th 
of October. 


firmness and discipline. Colonel Vose's battalion dis- 
played to the left, a part of the division successively 
dressing by him, whilst a second line was forming 
columns in the rear. It adds greatly to the charac- 
ter of the troops that, under the fire of the enemy, 
they displayed and took their rank with perfect 
silence and order. Give me leave particularly to 
mention Major Barber, division inspector, who dis- 
tinguished himself, and received a wound by a can- 
non ball. 

In making arrangements for the support of 
the works we had reduced, I was happy to find 
General Wayne and the Pennsylvanians so situated 
as to have given us, in case of need, the most effec- 
tual support. 

I have the honour to be, with the most perfect 
respect, &c. 


Camp, near York, October 20th, 1781. 

THE play, sir, is over and the fifth act has just 
been closed ; I was in a somewhat awkward situa- 
tion during the first acts ; my heart experienced 
great delight at the final one and I do not feel less 
pleasure in congratulating you, at this moment, 
upon the fortunate issue of our campaign. I need 
not describe the particulars of it, sir, because Lauzun 
will give them to you in person ; and I only wish him 
the same degree of good luck in crossing the ocean 
that he had in passing through a corps of Tarleton's 

M. de Rochambeau will give you a full account 
of the army he commands ; but if the honour of 
having commanded for some time the division of 

1779, 1780, 1781. 445 

M. de St. Simon gives me any right to speak of 
my obligations to that general and his troops, that 
right would be much valued by me. 

Will you have the kindness, sir, to present my 
respectful compliments to the Countess de Maurepas, 
and Madame de Flamarens, and to accept, yourself, 
the sincere assurance of my affection, gratitude, and 


Camp, near York, October 20th, 1781. 

ALLOW me, sir, to offer you my congratulations 
upon the good leaf that has been turned over in our 
political tablets. M. Laurens will give all parti- 
culars ; I rejoice that your Virginian campaign 
should close so well, and my respect for the talents 
of Lord Cornwallis renders his capture still more 
valuable to me. After this commencing stroke, 
what English general will ever think of conquering 
America ? Their southern manoeuvres have not 
ended more fortunately than their northern ones, 
and the affair of General Burgoyne has been again 

Adieu, sir ; I have so short a time for writing, 
that I can only add at present the assurance of the 
respect and sincere attachment of, &c. 


On board La faille de Paris, in Chesapeak Bay, 
Oct. 22, 1781. 

THIS is the last moment, my dearest love, allowed 
me for writing to you ; M. de Lauzun is going to 


join the frigate and return to Europe ; some business 
I had to settle with the admiral affords me the plea- 
sure of thus giving you some news of me two days 
later ; what relates to public affairs will be de- 
tailed to you by M. de Lauzun. The close of this 
campaign is truly brilliant for the allied troops ; 
our movements have been all remarkably well com- 
bined, and I must, indeed, be difficult to please, if I 
were not completely satisfied with the close of my 
Virginian campaign. You must have learnt all the 
trouble that Lord Cornwallis's talents and superior 
forces gave me, the good luck we had in regaining 
the ground we had lost, and, finally, our drawing 
Lord Cornwallis into the very position that was 
necessary to enable us to capture him : at that pre- 
cise moment all the troops rushed upon him. I 
count as amongst the happiest epochs of my life, 
that in which the division of M. de St. Simon re- 
mained united to my army, and that in which I 
alternately commanded the three field-marshals, 
with the troops under their orders. I pity Lord 
Cornwallis, for whom I have the highest respect ; he 
is kind enough to express some esteem for me, and 
after having allowed myself the pleasure, in the 
capitulation, of repaying the incivilities of Charles - 
town, I do not intend to carry my vengeance any 

My health is extremly good, and I met with no 
accident during our encounter. 

Present my most affectionate respects to Madame 
d'Ayen, and the Marshal de Noailles ; a thousand 
kind regards to all my sisters, the Abbe* Fayon, and 
M. de Margelay. I embrace ten thousand times our 
Gloved children. Adieu, adieu. 

1779, 1780, 1781. 447 


December 5th, 1781. 

THE king, sir, having been informed of the military 
talents of which you have given such multiplied 
proofs whilst commanding the different corps of the 
army that has been confided to you in the United 
States ; of the wisdom and prudence that have 
guided you in the various decisions you were called 
upon to take respecting the interests of the United 
States ; and of the great confidence with which you 
have inspired General Washington ; his Majesty has 
desired me to tell you, that the praises you have so 
justly merited on such various occasions have fixed 
his attention, and that your conduct and successes 
have made him, sir, conceive the most favourable opi- 
nion of you ; such a one as you might yourself desire, 
and from which you may depend on his future kind- 
ness. His Majesty, in order to give you a very flat- 
tering and peculiar mark of this intention, renews to 
you the rank of field-marshal in his armies, which 
you are to enjoy as soon as the American war shall 
be terminated, at which period you will quit the ser- 
vice of the United States to re-enter that of his 
Majesty. In virtue of this decision, sir, you may 
be considered as field-marshal from the date of the 
signature of the capitulation, after the siege of York- 
town, by General Cornwallis, the 19th October, of 
tnis year, on account of your fulfilling at that time 
the functions belonging to that rank in tue troops 
of the United States of America. 

His Majesty is disposing at this moment of his 
legiment of dragoons, of which he had kept for 
you the command until the present time. 

I beg you to be convinced of the pleasure I ex 


perience in this act of his Majesty's justice, and 01 
the wish, I feel to prove to you, on every occasion, 
the sincere attachment with which I have the 
honour of being, &c. 




Alliance, off Boston, December 21st, 1781. 
MY DEAR GENERAL, I am sorry to think we are 
not yet gone, and there still remain some doubts of 
our going to-morrow. This delay I lament not so 
much on private accounts as I do on the account 
of our next campaign, in the planning of which 
your opinion, as I shall deliver it, must be of the 
greatest use to the common cause. As to the 
department of foreign affairs, I shall be happy to 
justify the confidence of the congress, by giving my 
opinion to the best of my power, whenever it is 
asked for ; but the affair of finances will, I fear, be 
a difficult point for the American minister, in which, 
however, I shall be happy to help him with my 
utmost exertions. The moment I arrive in France, 
I will write to you minutely how things stand, and 
give you the best accounts in my power. 

I have received every mark of affection in Boston, 
and am much attached to this town, to which I owe 
so many obligations ; but, from public considera- 
tions, I have been impatient to leave it and go on 
board the frigate, where I receive all possible civili- 
ties, but where I had rather be under sail than at 

I beg your pardon, my dear general, for giving 
you so much trouble in reading my scrawls ; but we 

1779, 1780, 1781. 449 

are going to sail, and my last adieu, I must dedicate 
to my beloved general. Adieu, my dear general : 1 
know your heart so well, that I am sure that no dis- 
tance can alter your attachment to me. With the 
same candour, I assure you that my love, my respect, 
my gratitude for you, are above expression ; that, 
at the moment of leaving you, I felt more than ever 
the strength of those friendly ties that for ever bind 
me to you, and that I anticipate the pleasure, the 
most wished for pleasure, to be again with you, and, 
by my zeal and services, to gratify the feelings of 
my respect and affection. Will you be pleased to 
present my compliments and respects to Mrs. 
Washington, and to remember me to General Knox 
and General Lincoln. 

Adieu, my dear general, your respectful and 
tender friend, &c. 

VOL. I, G G 






At Robins's Tavern, half past four, 26 June, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, I have received your excellency's favor* 
notifying your arrival at Cramberry, and am glad to have 
anticipated your orders in not going too far. I have felt 
the unhappy effects of the want of provisions, for I dare say 
if we had not been stopped by it, as we were already within 
three miles of the enemy's rear, we would very easily have 
overtaken them and fought with advantage. 

I have consulted the general officers of the detachment, 
and the general opinion seems to be that I should march 
in the night near them, so as to attack the rear guard 
when on the march. We have also spoken of a night at- 
tack. The latter seems dangerous. The former will 
perhaps give them time of escaping, as it is impossible f 
would move quite close by them, at least nearer than three 
miles. Col. Morgan is towards the right flank, Gen. 
Dickinson is a little upon the left, Gens. Scott and Maxwel 
have insisted upon going further down than we are now 
for Wayne's and Jackson's corps they have not had pro- 

*The letter referred to does not appear in Sparks' "Writings of W??h- 
ington ;" but there is a letter of instructions in vol. 5, p. 417 of that work 
addressed to Gen. Lafayette by Gen. Washington, dated the 25th June 
1770, in relation to the service upon which the former had been del ched ; 
some account of which is to be found in the preceding " Memoirs," anie p. 
p. 51, 52. See also, the letters of Gen. Washington to Gens. Lee aiitl 
Lafayette, in Sparks' " Writings &c." p. p. 410, 419. 


visions at all but will be able to marcb in the night. I beg 
you would let me know your intention and your opinion of 
the matter, my motions depend much upon what the army 
will do for countenancing them. I beg you would be very 
particular upon what you think proper to be done and 
what your excellency will do. I wish indeed you would 
anticipate the different cases which may happen according 
to the place where the enemy lays. Gen. Wayne, Col. 
Hamilton and several officers have gone to reconnoitre it. 
I fancy they will lay about seven or eight miles from here. 
Your excellency knows that by the direct road you are 
only three miles further from Monmouth than we are in 
this place. 

The enemy is said to march since this morning with a 
great confusion and fright. Some prisoners have been 
made, and deserters come amazingly fast. I believe an 
happy blow would have the happiest effect, and I always 
regret the time we have lost by want of provisions. 

I beg you would answer to me immediately, and with 
the highest respect I have the honor to be, &c. 



At Cranbarry, 5 o'clock, June, 1778, 

DEAR GENERAL, I have received your orders for march- 
ing as just as I could and I have marched without waiting 
for the provisions tho' we want them extremely. Gen. 
Forman and Col. Hamilton sat out last night to meet the 
other troops and we shall be together at Hidestown or 
somewhat lower. Gen. Forman is firmly of opinion that 
we may overtake the enemy, for my part I am not so 
quiet upon the subject as he is, but his sentiment is of 
great weight on account of his knowledge of the country. 
It is highly pleasant to me to be followed and countenanced 
by the army that if we stop the enemy and meet with 

* In answer to the letter of instructions mentioned in the preceding note. 


some advantage they may push it with vigor. I have no 
doubt but if we overtake them we possess a very happy 
chance. However, I would not have the army quite so 
near as not to be quite master of its motions, but a very 
little distance may do it. I have heard nothing of the 
enemy this morning. An officer of militia says, that after 
they had pitched their tents yesterday night, they struck 
them again. But I am inclined to believe they did not go 
farther, and that the man who brought the intelligence was 
mistaken. I expect some at Hidestown which 1 will im- 
mediately forward to you. I beg when your excellency 
will write to me, that you could let me know the place 
you have reached, that I might govern myself accordingly. 
With the highest respect I have the honor to be, &c. 



Half past ten, 28th June, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, Your orders have reached me so late 
and found me in such a situation that it will be impossible 
to follow them as soon as I could wish. It is not on ac- 
count of any other motive than the impossibility of moving 
the troops and making such a march immediately, for in 
receiving your letter I have given up the project of attack- 
ing the enemy, and I only wish to join Gen. Lee. I was 
even going to set out, but all the Brigadiers, Officers, &c. have 
represented that there was a material impossibility of mo- 
ving troops in the situation where ours find themselves I 
do not believe Gen. Lee is to make any attack to morrow, 
for then I would have been directed to fall immediately 
upon them, without making 1 1 miles entirely out of the 
way. I am here as near as I will be at English Town. 
To-morrow at two o'clock I will set off for that place. 
I do not know if Morgan's corps, the militia, &c., must 

* In answer probably to Gen. Washington's letter of the 26th June. 
Sparks' Washington, vol. 5, p. 419. 


be brought along witb tbe other part of the detachment. 
Gen. Forman who don't approve much of that motion, 
says, that our right flank must be secured, unless to incur 
the most fatal consequences for the whole army. 

I beg your pardon sir, if my letter is so badly written, 
but I want to send it soon and to rest one or two hours. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 

Be so good as to send a speedy answer of what you 
think proper to order me. 


Cranbarry, half past nine o'clock, 29 June, 1778. 

DEAR GENERAL, Inclosed I have the honor to send you 
a letter which Colonel Hamilton was going to send me from 
this place when I arrived with the detachment, and which 
may give you an idea of the position of the enemy, I will 
try to meet and collect as soon as possible our forces, tho' 
I am sorry to find the enemy so far down that way. We 
will be obliged to march pretty fast, if we want to attack 
them. It is for that I am particularly concerned about pro- 
visions. I send back immediately for the purpose, and beg 
you would give orders to have them forwarded as speedily 
as possible, and directed to march fast, for I believe we 
must set out early to-morrow morning. The detachment 
is in a wood, covered by Cranberry Creek, and I believe 
extremely safe. We want to be very well furnished with 
spirits as a long and quick march may be found necessary, 
and if Gen. Scot's detachment is not provided, it should be 
furnished also with liquor ; but the provisions of this de- 
tachment are the most necessary to be sent as soon as pos- 
sible, as we expect them to march. 

If any thing new comes to my knowledge, I will imme- 
diately write to your excellency, and I will send an ex* 
press in the morning. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 


I wish also we could get some axes, but it should not 
stop the so important affairs of provisions. 


St. Jean d'Angely, June, 1779. 

SIR, I learnt before I left Paris, that a loan, negociat- 
ing in Holland for England, and which was to have been 
completed the coming autumn, would be stopped, be- 
cause the lenders had demanded one per cent more inter- 
est. This loan was undertaken by a banker of English 
origin, who has apportioned it among a great many per- 
sons, and had become lender-general to the English govern- 
ment. 1 am told that some profits over and above the 
commission might help America to this sum, amounting to 
above forty millions. I communicated this information to 
the Chevalier de la Luzerne to be imparted to you ; but 
having discharged that duty towards the Americans, I 
feared lest M. Necker would not share in my earnestness. 
I have already appropriated twenty millions to bank stock, 
ten to an expedition, and ten to pay the interest until the 
final reimbursement. 

I received at the moment I was coming away a letter from 
America, dated in the month of January, in which the 
President informed me in behalf of Congress, that they had 
changed their determination respecting the joint expedition 
to Canada. The reasons assigned are, the slight probabil- 
ity of Rhode Island and New York being evacuated next 
winter, the uncertainty of the enemy's movements next 
spring, and therefore the impossibility of promising their 
quota of the troops, fixed in the plan that I was intrusted 
with. I have the honor to be, &c. 


Havre, 9 July, 1779. 

SIR, If my letter from America had contained any inter- 
esting information, I should not have delayed a moment 


to acquaint you with it ; but it is only a confirmation of 
what you heard, and we have some later news by the way 
of England. It will be injurious to commerce for the 
British to have the command of James River, and while 
they can coast along- those shores with impunity, their 
transient descents will almost always succeed. If they 
should establish themselves in their new profession, to drive 
them out would be the more accordant to the plan I spoke 
to you about ; as, in Virginia, November and even Decem- 
ber are good campaigning months. The arrival of M. 
Gerard will certainly supply you with many details of 
American affairs, the Swedish ambassador has sent me, in 
the name of his king, the most flattering assurances, and 
well suited to awaken my gratitude, but the vessels are not 
forthcoming, and if we go to America, we must go under 
the Spanish or French flag. 1 think if our Southern allies 
should engage alone in a similar expedition, they would do 
more harm than good by it. 

I wish I could send news that the English fleet was beat- 
en in good earnest ; and whilst I wait that event with as much 
interest, as if I was at the head of the fleet, the army and 
the whole ministry, I do not forget that your time is 
precious, and so I shall content myself with presenting to 
you the homage of my respect and my attachment. 


Havre, 7th October, 1779. 

SIR, As from their minister in France, any European 
intelligence will be properly conveyed to congress, I beg 
only the leave of pay ing them a due tribute of my respect and 
heartfelt assurance of my unbounded zeal, love and grati- 
tude : so sensible I am of their goodness towards me, that 
I flatter myself they will kindly receive this letter from one 
who will ever boast in the name of an American soldier, 
and whose delight has been long ago, in sharing the same 
fortune as the American people, never to be considered but 
as a countryman of theirs. 


land has been obliged to make, the terror that has been 
spread along her own shores, while her naval forces were 
flying in the channel before our fleet, and suffering them- 
selves to be insulted by our vanguard frigates, and at length 
the obligation our fleet was under, to repair into the har- 
bour of Brest for getting provisions and water, are events 
which will be more accurately reported by Mr. Franklin's 
dispatches. The Ardent, man-of-war ol sixty-four guns 
has been taken by two French frigates. Captain Jones's 
small American squadron had the good luck of taking 
lately a fleet from the Baltic, and displaying Continental 
colours along the coasts of Scotland. 

Since I had the honor to write to your excellency, I 
have ever been with Count de Vaux's army, which was di- 
vided in two corps at St. Malo and the Havre, and con- 
sisted of thirty thousand men. Another body has been 
stationed in Flanders, arid two thousand dragoons are to 
embark at Brest. The project of invading England was 
at first retarded by a difficult meeting of the French and 
Spanish fleets on account of contrary winds, by useless 
efforts to bring out the enemy to an engagement, and the 
necesssity of repairing into the harbour of Brest. How it 
will be possible to bring out the expedition in the autumn 
is yet undetermined, but it will be perhaps delayed until 
next spring, though the ministry seem very anxious of act- 
ing in this campaign. 

Suppose the taking of Gibraltar, which they are going 
to attack with the greater vigor, was the only European 
conquest for this year, the large expenses France has made 
will yet be of a great use to the common cause, as it has 
exhausted England and detained at home forces which 
would have done mischief in the other part of the world. 

The loss which the enemy have sustained in the East 
Indies has been very severly felt by them, and from their 
negociations in Europe they cannot procure themselves 
any allies. 

Count d'Estaing's arrival on the American coasts will, I 
hope, have produced such an effect as we earnestly desire. 
How truly concerned, how truly unhappy I am in being 
confined to mere wishes, Congress, from the knowledge 



they have of my sentiments will better feel for me than I 
might myself express. The furlough they were pleased 
to give me was unlimited, no one could imagine the cam- 
paign would take such a turn, and till the month of June 
I was in hopes of rendering myself, in this part of the 
world, of a more immediate use to the United States. The 
expedition against England had been afterwards fixed up- 
on, and my services were thought useful to my country 
and the common cause : So that I hope Congress will ap- 
prove of my conduct. 

Whatever may be the success of the campaign in Ameri- 
ca, it will certainly bring on new projects for the ensuing 
year. The sense I have of the favors conferred on me by 
congress, and the marks of confidence which I have ob- 
tained in many occasions, give me the freedom of remind- 
ing them that the moments where I may find myself under 
American colours, among my fellow soldiers, and take 
orders from our great and heroic General will ever be con- 
sidered as the happiest ones in my life. 

If there is any thing in France where not only as a 
soldier, but as a politician, or in whatever possible light, I 
may employ my exertions to the advantage of the United 
States, I hope it is useless to tell that I will seize the hap- 
py opportunity and bless the fortunate hour which shall 
render me useful to those whom I love with all the ardor 
and frankness of my heart. 

The inestimable sword which Congress have generously 
added to their so many favors, I have received from their 
minister with such honorable services as by far exceed any 
merit I may ever boast of. This present has been also 
graced by Mr. Franklin's politeness in offering it, and I 
could not help repeating again to Congress some assurances 
of those sentiments which for ever will animate my grate- 
ful heart. 

With the warm feelings of one whose first ambition and 
delight is to be known in this and to be called in ages to 
come a lover of America, who is bound to his represen- 
tatives by the most respectful and tender attachment and 
gratitude, and with the highest regard for your excellency. 
I have the honor to be your's &c. 


Paris, 9th January, 1780. 

SIR, You were too busy yesterday for me to communi- 
cate to you the answer of M. de Montbarrey to the request 
for powder and guns which I had taken it upon me to 
make. I spoke in my own name, and the advice which I 
took the liberty of giving was not ill received. M. de 
Montbarrey told me that he would speak to you about it. 
He promised me an early answer ; and as you favor my 
request, I hope that we shall soon obtain the powder and 
the fifteen thousand complete sets of accoutrements, which 
we would add to the clothes bought with the king's 
money. You are conferring a great obligation upon 
America, and affording her great additional means of con- 
tributing to the advancement of the grand common cause. 
Every citizen must be strongly interested in the fate of our 
islands, and must fear the effects, which would follow if an 
expedition should go out from New York. It is enough 
to know that country, whose independence is so important 
to the honor and safety of France, to desire that it may be 
not forgotten in the plan of the campaign, and to regret 
the loss of the time which might be employed in giving it 
assistance. But the extensive operations are beyond my 
sphere, I shall merely ask for my guns, and assure you of 
the strong affection and respect with which I have the 
honor to be, &c. 



Peekskill, July the 20th, 1780. 

DEAR GENERAL, Having heard of an express from 
Rhode Island being going through the Continental vil- 
lage, I sent for him as it would not delay him more 

* This letter was written by General La Fayette, while on his journey ti Newport, R. 
I., whither he had been sent with full instructions to concert measures of co-oi eration 
with the French Gene als De Rochambcau and De Ternay. A co y of these instructions 
is given in Sharks' History of Washington, Vol. 7, App. III. See also the answer of 
Washington to La Fayette, ib. p. 117. 


than an hour. Inclosed I have the honor to send you 
the letter from Gen. Heath, which I have opened, and 
also two letters from the French ^generals to me. It 
seems, my dear General, that they have anticipated the 
desire you expressed yourself of our plans in a private 
conversation. That way indeed will do better than a 
hundred letters. In case (what however I don't believe) 
they would wish to speak to yourself, I shall imme- 
diately send an express to inform you of it ; but I dare 
say they will be satisfied with my coming. 

I am glad to hear they are hunting after the Cork 
fleet, and those frigates being out will also apprise them 
of the enemy's naval motions. 

Adieu, my dear General. With a heart full of hopes, 
and I think of well grounded expectations, I have the 
honor to be very tenderly and respectfully, &c. 

P. S. It is much to be lamented that Paul Jones did 
not come in the first envoy. In case there is nothing to 
fear from the enemy, I will send the clothing to New- 
London. Be certain, my dear General, that though by 
serious reflexions and calculations which I can prove to 
be right, I have great hopes of success, I shall how- 
ever look upon and speak of all the difficulties that may 
present themselves. I have on public and private 
accounts many reasons to feel the consequence of the 
plan in question, and to take the greatest care in consid- 
ering by myself and explaining to others our circumstan- 
ces. The delay of the small arms I don't consider as 
equally hurtful to our affairs as will be the deficiency of 
powder. But as (even at the so much overrated calcu- 
lations) we have enough of it for one month, I will try 
to get a supply from the fleet, and then it will come to 
the same point. You will hear from me as soon as pos- 
sible after my arrival. 



Danbury, July the 21st, 1780. 

As I find an express going from Hartford to General 
Greene, I send this letter to him that you might hear 
something farther about the recruits of Connecticut. 

From the Colonel who under Gen. Parsons is intrust- 
ed with the care of forwarding them, I hear that by the 
first of August two thousand of them will be at West 
Point ; but I had put in my head that they were to bring 
arms with them, and I find it is not the case. 
Gen. Parsons and myself will meet at Newtown, where, 
in mentioning again to him the necessity of hurrying the 
recruits to West Point, I will apprise him that you have 
been disappointed in the expectation of some powder, 
and desire him to write to you how far, in case of an 
emergency, you might be provided for with that article 
from his state. 

In case Gen. Parsons thought that my waiting on the 
governor and council might answer any purpose, I would 
go three or four miles out of my way to preach to them 
some of my old sermons. 

With the help of French horses whom I make free 
with on the road, I hope I will arrive very soon at Rhode 
Island. Nothing about Graves' fleet ; but I am happy 
to think that they will find our people ready to receive 
them at Newport. 

When I wrote you, my dear General, that my heart 
was full of flattering expectations, it is understood that I 
suppose a sufficiency of arms and ammunition, which I 
thought so far useless to explain, as I hope you believe I 
have some common sense. But I had an idea that the 
recruits would be armed, and I yet think (though I had 
no reason to be particular on that head) that you have 
many small arms in your stores. For what relates to 
the powder, I hope that what you willget from the states, 


and what I flatter myself to borrow from the French 
fleet, will put you in a situation to wait for the alliance. 
You may remember that the second division is to come 
before, or very little after, the beginning of our operations. 
I however confess it is impossible not to be very an- 
gry at captain Jones's delays, and much disappointed in 
our expectations. The only thing I want to know, is if 
you depend on a sufficiency of arms and ammunition for the 
first thirty days. Be certain that before settling any 
thing, my great basis will be, when and how does the sec- 
ond division come, and how far may we depend on the arms 
and ammunition coming with them. 

I have the honor to be, respectfully, &c. 


Hartford, July the 22d, 1780.* 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I hasten to inform you that the 
missing transport is safely arrived, on the 19th, at Bos- 
ton. She is said to be a two-decker, and to have on 
board a vast deal of powder, with pieces of ordnance, 
arid also the baggage of the officers of Bourbonnsis. The 
intelligence came this instant by an officer of our army 
who saw the men encamped on the commons, from 
where they were to march to Providence. Two Ameri- 
can frigates were, I am told, ordered to convoy the ship 
around the Rhode Island ; but as their orders were to 
sail by to-morrow, they will have time to receive con- 
trary directions from the French Admiral. The inclosed 
newspaper will acquaint you of Graves's cruising off' 
Block Island, and on their first appearance, Chev. de 
Ternay will certainly dispatch an express to Boston. 

* It appears from Spark's Hist, of Washington, p. 125. n. that in his progress to New- 
Port, General La Fayette called on Governor Prittttbult, General Parsons, Mr. Jeremiah 
Wadsworth,the Commissary-General, and other persons in Connecticut, to procure and 
'hasten forward the quota of troops, and such supplies of arms and ammunition as could 
b-e spared from that estate, to co-operate with the French troops upon their landing. 


In a conversation which I had yesterday with Gene- 
ral Parsons, he told me that he thought the number of 
your arms in stores, amounted to ten thousand, ex- 
clusive of those which are now in the hands of the men. 
He seems to be of opinion, and so is Col. Wadsworth, 
that there is no inconvenience in their State's furnishing 
their drafts with arms, and giving even a larger propor- 
tion if thought necessary. They say those arms may 
be by the 5th of August at King's Ferry. I was so par- 
ticular as to make myself certain that this demand will 
not in the least impeach any other measure, and as it 
would be too distressing to fall short on that article, I 
will take on myself, though in a private capacity, to per- 
suade the Governor and Council in the measure of arm- 
ing every one of the men whom they send out, and for- 
warding the arms to King's Ferry, or West Point, as 
you may direct. 

As to the matter of ammunition Gen. Parsons thinks 
that (as far as he may guess,) near fifty tons of powder 
might be collected. Col. Wadsworth says he can't as- 
certain the quantity. They have three mills, and from 
what I can collect, I am certain that if you attack New 
York, this State will do all in their power. I will fore- 
tell the Governor, that he will have a large demand of 
ammunition, and let you know how much we are to de- 
pend upon, as far as I may guess from his answer. 
Massachusetts have, say they, a vast deal of powder. 

I intend to breakfast at Newport the day after to-mor- 
row, and as soon as I can make out any thing worth 
the while, from my conversation with them, I will let 
you know every matter that may be interesting. 

With the highest respect and most tender friendship,, 
I have the honor to be, dear General, &c. 

I am told that the French are in a great want of ve- 
getables. I think it will be agreeable to. them to forward: 
their waggons and horses as much as possible.* 

* The answer to the above letter appears in Spark's Writ, of Washington, Vol. 7, p, 
125. eealsoib.p.!27,note. 



Lebanon, July the 23d, 1780.* 

M\ r DEAR GENERAL, I had this morning the honor 
to wait on His Excellency, the governor, and took the 
liberty, though in a private capacity, to inform him of our 
circumstances. The result of our conversation I will 
therein transmit to you, and to be more certain of con- 
veying the governor's ideas, I am writing at his own 
house, and will show him my letter before I fold it up. 

To begin by the article of powder which is so much 
wanted, and which, from unforeseen circumstances may, 
by its deficiency ruin all our expectations, I am, by the 
Governor, desired to tell you that you may depend up- 
on : Istly. Fifty four tons for the present. 2dly, Fifteen 
tons to be made up in the course of August, by the three 
Connecticut Mills. 3dly, Twenty tons, which in case of 
an absolute necessity, will be found out in this State ; 
the whole amounting to eighty-five tons, which he would 
try to encrease, if possible, to ninety. How far that may 
fulfil your expectations, I don't know, but his Excellency 
will wait for a letter from you on this subject. 

As to the balls, shells, &c., the Governor cannot as 
yet ascertain the quantity to be expected, but thinks this 
State may go a great length. 

His resources for arms have been, it seems, overrated 
by General Parsons, and other gentlemen, whose opi- 
nions I had communicated to your Excellency. The 
Governor thinks that it would be difficult to arm the 
whole of the recruits. He will, however, if requested 
by you, do any thing in his power, and might have a 
good prospect of succeeding for the half part of them. 

* This is one of the letteri referred to U Gen. Wanhingtoa'* letter of 26th July. Spark'* 
Wfit.of Wash. v,7, p. 128. 


Tho' I had no orders for this inter vie w \vilh Gover- 
nor Trumbull, and from the knowledge of our circum- 
stances, took upon myself the freedom of disclosing them 
to him, I heard your Excellency's sentiments on one 
point so often, so strongly, and so repeatedly expressed, 
that I could with all certainty assure him, that you 
would not ask from the State more than is necessary to 
answer our great purposes, and in delivering the coun- 
try from the danger of ruin and the disgrace of a shame- 
ful inability, to turn this decisive crisis to the honor 
and safety of America. 

I took also the liberty of mentioning something about 
clothing the officers, and assured the Governor that 
you thought the measure to be highly necessary. He 
entirely agrees in opinion with me, arid does not doubt 
but that at the first meeting of the Council a sufficient 
sum in hard money will be delivered lor that purpose. 
The knowledge I have of Colonel Wads worth's zeal 
and activity makes me desirous that he be intrusted with 
that business. 

As to the clothing from the fleet, it seems the Gover- 
nor wishes it to be sent into Connecticut river, and I will 
engage the French Admiral into that measure ; for I am 
very warm in this opinion, my. dear General, and so I 
know you are, that as less trouble as possible must be 
given to the people whose exertions should be entirely 
thrown in such channels, as are of absolute necessity ; 
but if we can't send the clothing around without an emi- 
nent danger of its being taken, then his Excellency the 
Governor will send it with all possible dispatch and by 
pressed waggons from the boundaries of Rhode Island 
to any place on the North River, which is mentioned in 
Mr. Olney's instructions. 

I have the honour to be, dear General, &c. 
Your's, &c. 

P. S. -I have read my letter to the Governor and he 
agrees with the contents. He will immediately give or- 



ders about the Mills, and collect four hundred French 
arms he had in stocks.* 


Newport, July 26th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Every private intelligence from 
Long-Island, and also the letters from General Howe, 
and the officer on the lines do agree with the note I have 
received from Colonel Hamilton, and are all positive 
upon it that General Clinton, with a great part of his 
army, is coming to attack the French troops. 

In consequence of this Count de Rochambeau is forti- 
fying both Islands, and making preparations of defence. 
He has requested our calling immediately a body of 
militia, which demand has been complied with by 
General Heath. 

After many intelligences had been received, I did yet 
persist in disbelieving the report, but they now come 
from so many quarters, that I am obliged to yield to the 
general idea, and expect them in a little time. 

I have no doubt but that in the course of the day we 
will receive some orders, and some intelligences from 
head-quarters. The French Generals have asked me 
if your army was in a situation to make a diversion, or if 
a part of it would not be marched immediately to our 
relief. My answer was, that if you was able to do one 
or the other, you would certainly not lose a minute, but 
that I could not tell them any thing positive ; that how- 
ever, I thought you would come nearer to New- York 
than you was when at Preakaness. 

* For the answer to the above, See Spark'i Writ, of Wash. v. 7, p. 124. 


All the last day has been employed or in viewing the 
camp with Count de Rochambeau, or in helping Gene- 
ral Heath in his arrangements. This morning the Count 
is gone to reconnoitre the grounds on the Island. We 
dine together at the Admiral's, and I will, if possible, 
begin our conversation, our affairs exclusive of what we 
are now expecting from the enemy. 

In case you was to send some troops this way, I wish 
I might get notice in such a time as to have some cloth- 
ing kept on the road, but in all cases we should take 
some well looking and well dressed men ; that, I only 
mention as a mere supposition. 

If the enemy mean regular approaches the French Gen- 
erals say that they would give time for a succour to come. 
In all suppositions I don't think the French will be able 
to form a junction before some time, as they can't leave 
the Island before the fifteenth of next month, (in sup- 
posing that they are not attacked.) They have many 
sick, but I will soon be able to tell you more about it, 
and had not those intelligences been so pressing, I might 
have by this time fully spoken on our affairs with the 
French Generals. 

For my part, my dear General, till orders from you 
fix any thing I am to do, I will stay here under General 
Heath's orders, and help him to the best of my skill. 
As soon as any thing important comes to us I will send 
you an express. 

From private inquiries I hope the fleet will furnish us 
with some powder. As to the militia who are called by 
General Heath, the French army will spare to them such 
provisions as may be wanted. 

I have the honor to be with the most perfect respect 
and tender affection, Yours, &c. 



Newport, July the 26th, at Seven o'clock, P. M.* 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I had this morning the honor 
of writing to you by Genl. Heath's express, and informed 
you that we had from every official and private quarter 
minuted accounts of the enemy's coming in great 
force to attack this island. For my part I have been a 
long time a disbeliever of the intelligence ; but so many 
letters came to hand that at length I was forced to take 
the general opinion about their intended expedition. But, 
tho' I wrote you in the morning, I know you are anxious 
of hearing often from this quarter, and will therefore 
desire General Heath to send an other express. 

Nothing as yet (the ships of war excepted) has 
come in sight ; but the French Generals who have not 
the smallest doubt about their coming, are hurrying their 
preparations of defence. 

General Heath and myself were invited to a meeting 
of the French General Officers, wherein, to my great 
satisfaction, the idea of holding both Connecticut and 
Rhode Island was abandoned, as it is assured that from 
the first one the enemy cannot annoy our shipping, if in 
a certain position. Count de Rochambeau, Chevalier 
de Chattelux, and myself, went afterwards to dine with 
the Admiral, and the two French Commanders have 
agreed to the following plan : 

The transports to be put in the harbour of Newport ; 
the shipping to anchor along the shore from Brenton's 
Point, going Northward, where they are protected by 
batteries, a frigate and a cutter to be stationed in Sekon- 
net Passage ; the army to encamp at its usual place, but 
upon the appearance of the enemy, to be in readiness to 

* For the answer to this letter, See Spark's Writ, of Wash. v. 7, p. 138. 


attack them at any point where they may disembark, 
and, if unsuccessful, to retire to the position which was 
once occupied by the enemy. There they want also to 
place some militia. Count de Rochambeau cannot hear 
of the idea of evacuating the island, and says he will de- 
fend this post to the last man. I could not help advis- 
ing him very strongly and very often to erect works, 
and keep a communication open with the Continent by 
Rowland's Ferry or Bristol Point, that matter will, I 
hope, be attended to in the course of the next day. 

General Heath will inform you of the measures he 
has taken, in which, as the second officer, I am only to 
help him to the best of my power. The Count's urging 
request, made it, I think, necessary to call for Militia. 

The number of sick is such that by the return given 
before me to Count de Rochambeau, it appears they 
will have but three thousand six hundred men fit for 
duty if they are attacked within a few days. The fleet 
has a great proportion of sick men and the ships are 
therefore poorly manned for the present. 

Count de Rochambeau asked me so often if you would 
not send a body of Continental troops to their relief ; if, 
in the course of twelve days from this they could not be 
arrived, or that I knew he wanted me to write to you 
about it, and at length he told me he did not want it. 
But this must be between us. The Count says he will 
stand a storm ; but if the enemy wanted to make a long 
work of it that a corps of Continental troops in their rear 
would have the best effects. That in this case the 
enemy would be much exposed on the Island, and that 
the circumstances which would follow their re-embark- 
ing, would be so fatal to them as to facilitate our opera- 
tions for the campaign. All this, my dear General, I was 
in a private manner desired to hint to you. 

We could not speak of our grand operations, and they 
are wholly taken in their expectations of the enemy. 
But what might be an inducement to send a corps this 
way is, that in any case the French will not be able to 
march before the 15th of August. 


A return of the clothing has been promised to me for 
this evening, but tho' 1 am sorry to be the news-bearer 
of so many disappointments, I must tell you that from 
what they said to me nothing but a small part of the 
clothing has been intrusted to them, and that not only 
nothing new has been done, but what I had settled has 
been undone by those arrangements of the alliance which 
I can't conceive. In case you was to send troops this 
way, I think their route to Providence should be known, 
so that they might meet the clothing on the way. 

What you will do, my dear General, I don't know, 
but it seems Count de Rochambeau is determined to 
defend Newport, at all events. 

With the most perfect respect and tender sentiments, 
I have the honor to be, Yours, &c. 


Newport, July the 29th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Your letter of the 22d* came to 
hand last evening, and I hasten to answer at least to a 
part of its contents. I shall begin by the disagreeable 
disappointment I met with on account of our clothing. 
Inclosed, my dear General, you will find the return 
of what has been put on board of the fleet, which 
I have sent by a vessel to Providence, and which will 
be forwarded to head-quarters. I can't tell you how 
much I feel for that shoking arrangement of clothing, but 
as it is not quite so essential to arms and powder, if we 
have no clothing. I shall be the forwardest to advise 
our acting without it. I am apt to blush for neglecting 

* See Spark's Writ. O f Waih. vol. 7, p. 117. 


improvements that are within my, but I readily 
do without those which are not in our power. 

As to the affair of arms I spoke this morning to the 
Count, and am sorry to find that he has but the most 
necessary articles of exchange which are to answer to 
the daily broken arms, &c., his superfluous armament is 
coming in the second division, and for the present there 
is nothing to expect from that quarter. The only way, 
my dear General, will be to request the States to pick 
up arms for their recruits. Governor Trumbull, (as you 
may have seen by my letter from Lebanon,) thinks 
there is a great deal of difficulty in this matter ; but 
many other Gentlemen from the State assure that it can 
be done. I will desire Colonel Wadsworth to manage 
that affair with the Governor, and I will also write a 
private letter to Mr. Bowdoin and Governor Greene. 

As to the powder, my dear General, I hope the Navy 
will give us some, not however a great deal. You can- 
not conceive how difficult it is for the present to speak 
with them on offensive plans. They expect Clinton 
at every minute, and say his success will decide our 
operations, I had however this morning a conversation 
with the Land General, and was to see in the evening 
the Admiral, who, I am told, cannot come, so that I 
must delay it to be done to-morrow. 

Connecticut will, I think, furnish you with a much 
greater quantity than you expected. How far it will 
fulfil your purpose I hope to hear from you ; but I can- 
not flatter you to get so much from the fleet as two hun- 
dred, even as hundred tons. 

I have fully considered, my dear General, the idea of 
those French Generals, and made myself acquainted 
with every thing that has past since my departure from 
France. A great mismanagement in the affair of trans- 
ports, has prevented the whole coming here at once ; 
but as the French and Spaniards have a superiority, 
there is no doubt but that if they join together as was 
intended, the second division will be here in leas than 


three or four weeks. The fleet on this Continent will, 
1 hope, be commanded by Mr. Duchoffaut, and will be 
very superior to that of the enemy. If by an unlucky 
chance the junction was prevented, the second division 
would yet certainly come in the autumn, and be in a 
situation to act during the winter ; but I have all reasons 
to believe that they will be here in three weeks, and 
you may depend upon it that they will at all events be 
here for the winter. From what I have been intrusted 
with I have a pretty certain ground to hope that my let- 
ter will produce upon Count de Guichen, the desired 
effect, and after an expedition which I can't trust to 
paper, will be concluded, you may, I think, depend 
upon his coming this way with a good part of his fleet. 

In a word, the French Ministry are determined to 
keep here during the war a land and naval force which 
will act on the Continent till a pea.ce is concluded, and to 
support it with all their power. They look upon Rhode 
Island as a point to be kept for receiving their fleets 
and their reinforcements of troops, and want the defence 
of it to be such an object as will insure the basis of our 

Before settling any thing the French Generals want 
to hear from their second division. Don't fear by any 
uneans their acting rashly, and be assured that you may 
very far depend on their caution ; but our wants of arms 
and ammunition have made me also very cautious. If 
the States furnish us with a sufficiency of the first arti- 
cle, and almost a sufficiency of the second, which we 
will make up with the fleet, then I am most strongly of 
opinion that waiting for the second division is all toge- 
ther wrong and unwarrantable. 

I have, however, brought Count de Rochambeau to 
this, viz, : That if the second division comes we must 
attack. That in all cases, if we are masters of the 
water, we may attack ; and that we may do it if the 
Admiral thinks that we can secure the passage by batte- 
ries, and if each part is equal to the whole of the enemy. 


We must now see what the Admiral has to say. What 
he wrote about the harbour of New York don't please 
me. If Duchoffaut comes, I answer for any thing you 
wish. To-morrow I will speak with the two Gentlemen, 
so at least I hope, and will let you know their answers. 

If the second division comes in time we shall certainly 
act and succeed. Then we will have our arms, pow- 
der, clothing, &c. 

I never thought, my dear General, that Clinton would 
come this way ; nor do I think it now, but every body 
says he is coming. Governor Clinton has it as a cer- 
tainty, and upon his letter received this morning they 
have altered the arrangement ; I had settled to dismiss 
the extraordinary militia. I hate troubling all these 
people, and taking them away from their harvest. Gen. 
Heath is of my opinion, but the intelligences are so 
particular, so authentic, that he dares not to neglect to 
gather as many men as possible. Before you receive 
this you will certainly know the truth of those reports. 

If you think, my dear General, that Clinton is coming, 
and if he disembarks upon Rhode Island, I am clearly 
of opinion that three or four thousand Continental troops 
and the militia landing on his rear, while the Count 
would sally from Newport, would ruin the British army, 
and that the taking of New York would be but a trifle 
after such a stroke. 

In case you adopt the measure, I think that the com- 
munication with the main is very important. I 
went yesterday to the North end of the Island, and had 
the works repaired in such a way (at least they will be 
soon so) as to keep up a communication by Rowland's 
Ferry for eight or ten days after the enemy will possess 
the Island. I have also desired Colonel Greene, in case 
they appear, to run up the boats to Slave Ferry. Signals 
have been established from Watch Point to Connanicut ; 
all those arrangements I have made with the approbation 
and by the orders of General Heath. 

You will by this express receive a letter from GenL 



Heath, who applies for, and most ardently wishes at 
leave of repairing to his command in the grand army. 

For my part, my dear General, I will, I think, wait 
your answer to this, and want to< know if by the situa- 
tion of your arms and ammunition, there is a possibility 
of your acting before the second division comes. If 
from the answers of the States you think such a propor- 
tion of powder from; the fleet will be sufficient ; then I 
will be more positive. If, however, after my conversa- 
tions, I was to see that the second division mast be 
waited for at all events, then I need not be waiting for 
your answer to this. I will,, therefore, my dear General,, 

1st, Or arrange with then* a beginning of operations 
before the second division comes, arid then wait for 
your answer about arms and ammunition, or the pros- 
pects I may have by myself to fix it entirely. 

2d, Or fix our plans for the moment the second division? 
comes, and then I will, as soon as possible, repair to* 

They seem; rather doubtful of the possibility offending 
safely, and having a sufficiency of boats to carry them* 
under the protection of our Westchester batteries, and 
I beg you will give me such a note about it as I might 
show to them. 

With the highest respect and most tender friendship,, 
I have the honor to be, dear General, 

Yours, &c. 

All the officers and soldiers of the army have a great 
desire to join the grand army, and hate the idea of stay- 
ing at Rhode Island.- 




Newport, July the 31st, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, In consequence of a note frora 
une the Admiral came to last evening, and defensive 
ideas gave way to offensive plans. Our conversation 
was long, and it is not _yet ended, but I hasten to write 
you a summary report of what past between the Count, 
$he Chevalier, and myself. 

I first began, in my own name, to give them^a pretty 
exact account of the situation we were in three months 
ago, of the supernatural efforts which the country had 
made for the purpose of an immediate co-operation. I 
ftoldrthem that by the 1st of January our army would be 
dismissed ; that the Militia was only to serve for three 
months. I added, that for the defensive they were use- 
less to us ; nay, they were hurtful, and that I thought k 
necessary to take New- York before the ^winter. All that, 
my dear General, was said insmy own name, and there- 
fore in a less delicate way than when I am your inter- 

I then told them 1>hat I was 'going to speak of you, 
^and after many compliments, assurances of confidence, 
4fcc., I went on with your plan, beginning with the import- 
ance of possessing the harbour, and going on about the 
three ways which yon have directed rne to point out as 
to be hereafter regulated by circumstances. 

As to the possessing of the harbour the Chevalier 
told that he did not believe his ships might go in ; but 
that if superior at sea, he would answer by cruising off 
to protect the landing, the transportation, and prevent 
an evacuation ; indeed to blockade the harbour. 

The French General, with the advice of the Naval 
Commander did not 'hesitate to prefer the going in 
transports to die poiat joii know o Both were of opi- 


nion that nothing could be undertaken unless we had a 
naval superiority, and as I know it is your opinion also, 
(tho' it is not mine,) I durst not insist on that article. 

There was another reason which made me wait for 
the reinforcement. I knew we had neither arms nor 
powder. I know we would be at least a long time to 
get them ; but as they did not think of making me the 
objection I put my assent to the others on the account of 
my private confidence in their superior abilities ; told 
them that you also thought we should have a naval 
superiority, and added, in my own name, that however 
we must, any how, act before the winter, and get rid of 
a shameful defensive. 

The summary of the arrangement will, I presume, be 
this : That as soon as we hear of a naval reinforcement 
we go where you know, and establish what you intend 
to fix ; that, if possible, we get where I want you to 
be ; that immediately the French will embark and go 
where you wish them to be, or thereabout ; that a num- 
ber equal to the enemy's whole force be stationed in that 
part ; that they don't want there more than ten pieces of 
our heavy cannon ; that after every thing will be disem- 
barked, three weeks, in their opinion, will do the business 
on their side ; that proper means will be taken by sea to 
keep up the communication and prevent an evacuation ; 
that we must not give up that plan if we may begin in 
August or September ; that fascines and other apparatus 
must be ready on the opposite shore ; that they will take 
for us all the boats belonging to the Continent which will 
be at Providence ; that as soon as our clothing, &c., 
arrive, it will without entering any harbour be sent to 
W. C. or thereabout. 

Their superiority at sea, will, I think, take place in 
the course of this month; they have two ways to 
depend upon it : 1st, Unless of an absolute impossi- 
bility the second division, consisting of four other regi- 
ments and the remaining part of Lauzun's, with the 
Alliance and all other stores, and with a strong convoy 


of ships of the line, will be here very soon. When they 
will be heard of on the coast, Chevalier de Ternay will, 
at all events, go out and meet them. 2dly, the Gentle- 
man I wrote to on my arrival has full liberty to send here 
reinforcements, the Admiral has already applied to him, 
but I am going to make him write other letters in my way, 
and will send them to-morrow or the day after to Cheva- 
lier de la Luzerne, whom I beg you will immediately 
desire to secure three fast sailing vessels for the West 

I am going this evening to fix plans with Pilots, and 
also to speak of the entrance of the harbour. Dobs 
and Shaw are here, and I will have a full conversation 
with them and the Admiral, both for the entrance of the 
harbour and the navigation of the Sound. To-morrow 
I call, with as much secrecy as possible, a number of 
Pilots for the harbour of Halifax and River St. Lau- 

Inclosed, you will find a letter from Count de Rocham- 
beau. He requests you will have the goodness of letting 
the Minister know what the French army is about, as he 
had no time of writing to him ; it is, I believe, very 
important. 1st, To send every where to meet the rein- 
forcement, and give them proper directions. 2dly, To 
have some vessels ready for the West Indies. 

The French set more value upon Rhode Island than 
it is worth. I however got them to promise that in case 
of an operation they will not leave here a Garrison, and 
that their Magazines would be sent to Providence. 

You know, my dear General, I did not expect Clinton, 
and tho' I could not stand alone in my opinion, I ever 
lamented the calling out of the Militia. I am happy to 
inform you that they have been dismissed. Nothing can 
equal the spirit with which they turned out, and I did 
not neglect letting the French know that they have done 
more for their allies than they would have done for the 
security of their own continental troops on a similar 


As to the three month men, the French General 
wants them to establish the communication with the 
main ; but I will soon request him to let them go to the 
grand army, and will, in the same time, get from this 
State as many arms and powder as possible. I have 
written to Massachusetts for the same purpose. 

After I will have sent the Pilots, and made calcula- 
tions with the Commander of the Artillery and the first 
Engineer whom the Count will consult, I shall draw a 
plan which I will get their answer to, and repair with it 
to head-cjwarterfc, In the meantime I will receive an- 
swers from Boston and from Governor Greene. 

The Admiral cannot send to us more than thirty 
thousand of powder. But you see that their demands 
as to heavy pieces are small ; they indeed say they do 
not want any on the Island, and that their twenty-ones 
will be sufficient. All that, my dear General, I will be 
more positive <upon after the Commanders of Artillery 
and Engineers will have made with us their calculations, 

I hope, my dear General, that by the 5th or 6th of 
August, I will have nothing more to do in this place. 

The French army hate the idea of staying here, and 
want to join you ; they swear at those that speak of 
waiting for the second division ; they are enraged to be 
blockaded in this harbour. As to the dispositions of the 
inhabitants and our troops, and the dispositions of the 
inhabitants and the Militia for them, they are such as I 
may wish. You would have been glad the other day to 
see two hundred and fifty of our drafts that came on 
^Connecticut without provisions or tents, and who were 
mixed in such a way with the French troops, that every 
French soldier and officer took an American with him 
and divided their bed and their supper in the most 
friendly manner. 

The patience and sobriety of our Militia is so much 
admired by the French Officers, that two days ago a 
French Colonel called all his officers together to desire 
them to take the good examples which were given to the 


French soldiers by the American troops. So far are 
they gone in their admirations that they find a great deal 
to say in favor of General Varnum, and his escort or 
Militia Dragoons, who fill up all the streets of Newport. 
On the other hand, the French discipline is such*,- that 
ehiken and pigs walk between the tents without being 
disturbed, and that there is in the camp a cornfield, frorr* 
which not one leaf has been touched. The Tories- don't 
know what to say to k. 

Adieu, my dear General. To-morrow, I hope hav ing 
the pleasure of writing you another letter, and am with 
the most tender friendship*, dear General,. 

Your most obedient humble servant, &c. 

I beg, my dear General, you. will present my compli- 
ments to the family.* 



Newport, August the litj, 1780i 

MY DEAR GENERAE, Your letter to Cbun de- 
Bochambeauf mentioning the enemy's embarkation., and 
your future movements against New- York, a positive- 
letter from Governor Trumbull, and a positive one from* 
General Parsons, have once more altered the disposi- 
tions, and such of the Militia as- had been dismissed 
have been again sent for. 

In consequence of these expectations my offensive 
arrangements have been entirely cut short,, they are- 
wholly taken in their preparations. My letter of yester- 
day has been detained with the hope that some intelli- 
gence might be added to it ; but I will send it this morrj- 

* The answer to this letter appears in Spark's Writ, of Wash. v. 7, p. 135. 
t Se Spark's Writ, of Wash. vol. 7, p. 126. 


ing, and if it is possible to obtain from the Admiral some 
hour's conversation with Captains Dobs and Shaw I 
shall to-morrow morning dispatch another express. 

The dispositions of defence are, I believe, these ; the 
French to occupy the English lines ; General Heath to 
command a corps of militia on the Tivertown side ; I 
to have his van-guard on the Island, and to watch the 
enemy's motions almost all around the Island, which is 
not a small affair. 

If the enemy land I will try to oppose it, and the 
French will come in columns to attack them with fixed 
bayonets. If this attack do not succeed they will retire 
behind the lines, and take with them fifteen hundred 
Militia, when with the few ones that may stay, I will 
retire to Butt's Hill, and secure the communication with 
General Heath. 

As you did not write to me, my dear General, I could 
not know what you want me to do. If you think seri- 
ously of entering on the Island of New- York, I am 
extremely sorry to stay here. If on the contrary you 
send troops this way, (which, if the enemy land, would 
be fatal to them,) I will not be to lament my being away 
from the army. I shall feel very unhappy to be with 
some Militia while the Light Infantry is acting under 
you, and had I been sent for, I would have joined you 
very fast ; but if you can take New-York I will heartily 
forget that I could have been there, and feel nothing but 
joy ; if, however, there was time enough, I'd beg you 
will send for me. If you send troops this way I believe 
they may strike a great blow. 

The wind is against them, so that they won't be here 
before the day after to-morrow. Adieu, my dear Gene- 
ral, with the highest respect I have the honor to be, 
Your's, &c.* 

* For the answer to the above, approving the measures of La Fayette, See Spark'* 
Writ, of Wash. v. 7, p. 141. 



Elizabeth Town^ October the 27th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, From what you have heard 
from Dr. Hagen about the boats when on your way to 
head-quarters, I don't believe that you may have kept 
any hope for our success. The boats have been, it 
seems, reduced to five, and from the time when they were 
yet at the Little Falls you may see that they could not 
be here at the appointed hour. 

I will not permit my self to reflect on this moment upon the 
many blunders committed on that affair by the Quarter- 
General's department. I was too certain of some bril- 
liant success, and military glory is too much idolized by 
me, not to be rather severe on the occasion. I will 
content myself to say that from the report and common 
agreement of all the spies and guides collected together 
by Major Lee, from the negligence of the enemy, the 
circumstances of the tide and a thick foggy weather, not 
one of those whom I led into the matter had the least 
doubt upon your success. 

The only advantage I have got from it has been to 
convince myself that our troops are particularly fit for 
such an expedition, on account of their patience and 
silence ; and that if the other business could be sup- 
ported upon a large scale, I would answer to carry it. I 
have written upon both roads to the commanding officer 
of the brigade of the line that our expedition was relin- 
quished, and that I would advise him not to give to his 
men the trouble of going farther. I have also requested 
him to speak of this movement as if it had taken place 
on account of some intelligence that the enemy meant 
to come out into the Jersey's to attack us. 

I have taken my position between Elizabethtown and 


Connecticut Farms. General Clinton has not the time 
of making any disposition against us. To-morrow at 
nine or ten I will march to our position of Crane's Town, 
and the day after to-morrow to Cotawa, unless I receive 
contrary orders. 

Newark Mountain was rather too far to march it this 
night, and too near for to-morrow, because our men being 
in want of blankets will like better to join their tents 

If your Excellency approves of this arrangement, I 
beg you will order our baggage to wait for us on our 
position of Crane's Town ; if you dislike the disposition 
your orders may reach us on the road. 

I beg, my dear General, you will please to communi- 
cate our ill success and disgraceful disappointment to 
the Minister, who said he would not leave Morris Town 
until he hears from me. 

Had I any thing to reproach to myself on the occasion, 
I would be inconsolable. I undertook the business 
because I thought myself equal to it ; I wish the people 
in the Quaiter Master's Department had done the same 
for their plans. 

I am, my dear General, your's, &c. 


Light Camp, October 27th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I am sorry to hear from Major 
Gibbs that my letter of last night did not reach you 
before your departure from head quarters. It had been 
written at one o'clock, as soon as I took my position for 
the night, and intrusted to'Colonel Ogden, who promised 
to send it by an officer acquainted with the roads. 


Depending upon your communication of the sad 
intelligence to Chevalier de la Luzerne, I did not send to 
Morristovvn where he was to wait for the news of the 

Among the many blunders which have been com- 
mitted, I shall extract from that complete assortment 
some instances ( not for this glorious occasion that is 
forever lost ) but on any future one. 

You may remember that after a long time Colonel 
Pickering assured to you that the boats were in com- 
plete readiness whilst they had no oars, he afterwards 
positively told that he had only three boats with him 
at Camp when two hours before I had seen five of them 
with my own eyes. The sending of those five boats 
two hours after that which you had appointed, you have 
been early apprized of, but you don't perhaps know that 
instead of being at Dod's the night before last the boats 
from SufFrans arrived there last evening about sunset, 
to this report the man who received them eight miles 
this side of SufFrans adds that they wanted their double 
trees and spread chains, so that he was obliged to lose 
about two hours in taking those things from Continental 
wagons and the inhabitants ; when our affairs will be 
thus managed your best projects cannot fail of being 

Had Mr. Pickering followed the example of General 
every thing would have been here in proper time 
and proper order, as was the artillery from the Park. 
I confess, my dear General, that I cannot reconcile my 
feelings to the idea that by this neglect I have lost a 
most happy opportunity, blessed with all the little 
circumstances which may insure success. Our expedi- 
tion has taken the most foolish turn in the eyes of any 
one who is unacquainted with this circumstance of the 

When I was in hopes of seeing in time at least five of 
them, I gave up the watering place to think only of 
Richmond; but when I saw that we could not be there 


before the break of the day, I did not hesitate to relin-^ 
quish an expedition which on that footing would have 
occasioned a great profusion of blood for little or no 
purpose, but you will easily guess what I have felt on 
the occasion. I never have been so deeply wounded by 
any disappointment. 

By Mercereau and Colonel Ogden, I hear that the 
enemy are collecting boats and intend a forage into the 
Jerseys. I would be very happy to know if you have 
got the like intelligence. Suppose they were to 
come out in force and at a distance from us, would not 
this be an opportunity to execute your grand plan ? 

I beg you will let me know this evening if I am to 
march to-morrow to our old ground to Cotawa ; if the 
enemy were likely to come out, or if you thought of a 
certain plan, I would advise to keep Major Lee for some 
days, as in both cases he will be a capital man, - he is 
a most charming officer. 

Arnold has issued a second proclamation wherein he 
invites the officers and soldiers of our army to join him, 
promising to them equal ranks to those they hold in the 
American service. 

I am told expresses were sent to me to acquaint 
me of the delay of the boats ; but excepting Doctor 
Pagen I have not seen one of them, the boats have 
been sent to the two bridges by Major Gibbs, I had 
brought them up with me, and in passing by them both 
conductors and wagoners have received the curses of 
every officer and soldier in the division. The men 
marched last night very fast with such silence, good 
order and desire of fighting as would have highly pleas- 
ed you. The activity and resources of Major Lee have 
been on that occasion displayed in such a way as entitles 
him to my eternal esteem and gratitude. I felt not only 
for me but for all the officers and men who had promised 
themselves so much glory on the occasion. 

With the most tender affection and high respect J 
have the honor to be, my dear general, yours, &c. 


Colonel Ogden has remained behind to get intel- 
ligences ; so that being uncertain if my first letter has 
reached you, I would be happy to know in the course of 
the night if I am to march to-morrow morning to the 
old ground.* 



Philadelphia, December 4, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL,- I will for this time write a 
very short letter to you and cannot be more particular 
either on public or private business, until some few 
days stay in this city have enabled me to get farther 

I have been greatly disappointed in my not meeting- 
Mrs. Washington. I have been very angry with my 
bad fate which led me into another road at the only 
moment when I could miss her this has been the 
more the case, as I knew you was uneasy about her, 
and I wanted both to send you an express and to advise 
her to the best way of meeting you as soon as possible. 

The southern news are expected this evening. Leslie 
has re-embarked and will probably go to Charleston ; 
the southern members are pleased to like my going 
towards their country. However I cannot for the pres- 
ent be determined, as I don't yet know if the campaign 
will be active, and if succours are to be expected from 

* The two preceding letters relate to a descent upon Staten Island, which was pro- 
jected, and was to be executed by La Fayette, who was now in command of a Light 
Corps, consisting of battallions, stationed in advance of the main army, and was anxious 
to efiect some important enterprise before the campaign should be brought to a close ; but 
this expedition, as well as an attack proposed in his letter of the 30th October, ante upon 
the upper part of New York Island, was rendered impracticable by the want of boats and 
other necessary preparations. See Sparks' Writ, of Wash. v. 7, p. 280, and App. No. 9. 


By a vessel from there who left Lorient before the 
middle of October, we hear that nothing material had 
happened except the taking of the merchant fleet. Both 
naval armies were in port. There was an expedition of, 
I think, ten ships of the line and five thousand men 
ready to sail this vessel came in company with Jones, 
who is daily expected ; but a very little part of our 
clothing will be on board, some will corne on board 
the Serapis, Jones, who mounts the Ariel had dispatches 
from the French Court, for as he however might have 
been detained by a storm off the French coast which 
separated the little convoy. In the vessel arrived was a 
Mr. Ross, who, I hope will give me some account of the 
clothing, and Baron d' Arent, who got rid of his rup- 
ture, has a star with a cross and a ribbon, and is upon 
very good terms with the King of Prussia. 

Congress have debated a motion about your being 
desired to go to the southward, but have determined 
that you would better know than they do if it was 
more useful to go or to stay. I am more than ever of 
this last opinion. 

On my arrival I found one of the salt meat vessels 
sold and the other to be sold to day. I have spoken on 
the subject to almost every member of Congress, who 
promised that they would take the best measures in their 
power to get these provisions. 

Chevalier de la Luzerne has communicated to me in 
the most confidential way a Spanish plan against St. Augus- 
tine, upon which I am building a letter for the Generals 
of this nation, and using the best arguments in my 
power to engage them either to send twelve ships of the 
line to take us and conduct us to Charleston, as to render 
their operations as useful as possible to General Greene. 
To-morrow I will write you about it. If I have time 
before the departure of the confederacy who is going to 
the West Indies, I will send you the original, if not a 
copy of my letter. This is entirely confidential, as I have 
not the Chevelier's permission to mention it. 

Adieu, my dear General, your's, most respectfully. 


A letter dated Cadiz, September 23d, mentions that 
Count d'Estaing commands the combined fleet, and is 
gone to sea. In this case his going with sixteen ships 
could not be true. I will endeavour to ascertain this 

Mr. Carmichael writes that Spain has sent a hundred 
and thirty thousand dollas. It is not a great deal, the 
dispositions of that court are very satisfactory. Portugal 
does every thing we want, letters are just arrived from 
St. Domingo but not desciphered. 


December the 5th, in the Evening, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, However acquainted I may 
be with your intentions, I thought, upon the whole, 
that I should better wait for your approbation before I 
present any opinion of yours to the Spanish and French 
Generals in the West Indies. I will, I know, lose the 
opportunity of the confederacy, but many vessels are 
going that way, and if my letters meet with your appro- 
bation I shall send them by triplicates. I impatiently 
wait for your answer. 

I will write to General Greene to let him know of this 
intended expedition, which, tho' uncertain as all human 
events are, may be, however, in a great measure depend- 
ed upon. 

I confess that I don't hope to prevail upon the Spa- 
niards to come here ; but if you will, you, Count de 

* The Light Infantry corps which La Fayette had commanded was broken up when the 
aimy went into winter quarters, and he now entertained the desire of transferring his 
services to the southern army under General Greene, and had applied to Washington 
for his advice. See Spark*' Writ, of Wash. vol. 7, p. 316. 


Rochambeau, and Chevalier de Ternay, may try. In 
that case I wish you would write to both of them. My 
letter will, at all events, give some remote chance of 
their doing what I wish, and insure their communicating 
with General Greene. For political reasons I also wish 
to draw them into this correspondence. 

Chevalier de la Luzerne wishes his packet to Count 
de Rochambeau to be forward as soon as possible. 

Adieu, my dear General, your's most respectfully 
and affectionately.* 


Philadelphia, December the 16th, 1780. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Your favor of the 8th instant 
never came to hand before last night. My former letters 
will have explained to you my sentiments relating to a 
journey southward. I must heartily thank you, my dear 
General, for the kind and friendly letters you have been 
pleased to send me. I am so happy in your friendship 
that every mark of your affection for me gives me a 
degree of pleasure which far surpasses all expressions. 

As I have written to you before, my dear General, 
there is an intelligence of some ships and troops having 
been put in readiness at Brest ; there is a possibility of 
a Spanish officer waiting on you for the sake of a co-ope- 
ration. We are also to expect news from my friend the 
new Minister of the French Navy, and before they 
arrive you would not like my departure. 

Two other reasons have weight with me ; the first that 
if the enemy make this detachment, without which 
nothing material will happen in the Southward, and if 

* For the answer to this letter, Sea Sparks' Writ, of Wash. v. 7, p. 322. 


the intelligence is true about the fast recruiting of sh$ 
month men, there is (not a probability) but a possibility 
of some thing to be done in this quarter. The second 
is, that for reasons I will explain to you when we meet, a 
visit from you to the French army is to be much wished, 
and in this case you will be glad that I may accompany 

Under these circumstances, to which is added a natural 
reluctance to part from you and this army, and some 
idea that upon the whole my staying will be more agree- 
able to you, I think, my dear General, that unless new 
intelligence comes I will soon return. 

Colonel Laurens persists in refusing to go, and hopes 
Hamilton may be sent, whom he thinks better calcu- 
lated for the purpose ; but I don't believe novv that this 
plan may be effected, and in that case I should advise 
Laurens to accept of the commission, provided he is 
merely a messenger and not an cnvoy t that would super- 
sede the old Doctor. 

The Assembly of Pennsylvania have passed a bill for 
their officers which seems satisfactory to them. Before 
I go I will still intrigue for the affair of filling up the 
battalions. Mifflin behaves perfectly well. 

Adieu, my dear General, most affectionately and res-* 
pectfully, Your's, &c.* 


Philadelphia, March the 2nd, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Your letters of the 25th and 
26th t both came yesterday to hand, which shows that the 

* For the letter referred t"> in the commencement of this, See Sparks' Writ, of Wash. 
v. 7, p. 316, and see also the letter of Washington to Lafayette, Ibid, p. 322 &339. 

t For these, See Sparks' Writ. Wash. p. 430 & 439 .The date of the letter is there given 
as the 27th. 



expresses have not made great dispatch. I would have 
done myself the honour of writing to your Excellency 
had I not every minute waited for intelligence from the 

Your Excellency remembers that our shortest calcu- 
lation on the arrival of the troops at the head of Elk was 
for the 6th of March ; I am happy to inform you that 
they will be there this day or to-morrow early, and 
notwithstanding the depth of the mud, and the extreme 
badness of the roads, this march, which I can call rapid, 
(as for example, they came in two days from MorrisTown 
to Princeton,) has been performed with such order and 
alacrity, that agreeable to the report two men only have 
been left behind ; and yet these two men have embarked 
at Trenton with some remains of baggage. At every 
place where the detachment have halted, they have 
found covering and wood ready for them, and there has 
not been the least complaint made to me from any inha- 
bitant. Every third day they have drawn their provis- 
ions ; the clothing has also been distributed, and having 
embarked yesterday at Trenton they passed the city 
about two o'clock with a wind which was extremely 
favorable. Congress have given to their troops the 
advance of one month's pay which will be distributed 
at the head of Elk in new emission. 

The Artillery, consisting of one 24, six 18, two brass 
12, one 8 inch howitzer, two 8 inch mortars, in all, 12 
heavy pieces ; four 6 pounders, and two small howit- 
zers, with a sufficient quantity of ammunition, will be at 
the head of the Elk this day and to-morrow, so that by 
the 4th I hope we shall be ready to sail. A quantity of 
medicines and instruments, and fifteen hundred pairs of 
shoes will be at the head of Elk before we embark. 
Vessels will be in readiness to receive us with thirty 
days provision on board. I am also assured that we 
will have a sufficient quantity of boats to land the detach- 
ment, and two heavy ones will be added for the Artil- 
lery, the public, and some of the private armed vessels 


in the Bay have been ordered to the head of Elk ; two 
dispatch boats are there, and four more have been asked 
for. As a farther security to our subsistence, I have got 
the Minister's permission to dispose of the French flour 
and salt meat along the Bay in case of necessity. 

On my arrival at this place I heard that M. de Tilly, 
the French Commander, had conferred with the Virgin- 
ians, but upon seeing that nothing could be done imme- 
diately, he was undetermined whether to stay or to 
return to Rhode Island. Fearing that our letters might 
miscarry, and wishing to hurry the preparations of the 
Militia, I complied with the earnest solicitations of the 
Minister of France to send on Colonel Gouvion, and 
directed him to go either by land or water (as the state 
of the Bay would permit) on board the French squadron, 
and afterwards to Baron de Steuben's Camp, where he 
may apprise these Gentlemen of our force, our inten- 
tions, and the time of our arrival. This minuted account 
I give to your Excellency to show you that nothing on 
our part has been wanting for the success of the expe- 
dition. Our preparations have in every article fulfilled, 
and in the most important one, time, have exceeded 
what had been expected. 

Your letter was sent by express to General St. Clair, 
who immediately came to town ; but nothing having 
been done for the settling of the accounts, none of the 
promises having been complied with, and the men being 
much scattered, it has, (after much consideration,) been 
thought impossible to embark any number with us, and 
General St. Clair promises to make every exertion for 
the sending of two or three hundred in a few days 
whom however I am not to depend upon. 

I am myself going to the head of Elk and shall arrive 
there this evening. It has not been possible for me to 
leave soonei the City, as the three days I have remained 
here have been fully employed in making and forward- 
ing preparations. 

Before I go I will wait on the Board of War Navy 


and propose the sending of the frigates ; but the Trum- 
bull having not her compliment of men, and those of the 
Ariel having mutinied at sea, I am afraid we will find 
difficulties. The preparations made at New York ; the 
Return of the Amafila ; the remasting of the Bedfort j 
the impossibility Mr. Destouches is under to give us any 
further assistance ; the uncertainty of what Mr. de 
Tilly may have determined before he had received your 
letter. Such are, my dear General, the many reasons 
which from a pretty certain expedition have lately made 
a precarious one. Under these circumstances, indeed, 
there must always be more or less danger in going down 
the Bay, and venturing the low country about Ports- 
mouth. Being unacquainted with the answer you have 
received from Count de Rochambeau and Mr. Des- 
touches, I am Hot able to judge how far I may depend 
upon the same ship being ordered again to Chesapeake 
(in case before the reception of your letter) she had 
thought proper to sail. Her coming was not in conse-> 
quence of your proposition ; her going was relative to 
the difficulties of an expedition very different from ours* 
&nd I wish I might know if (tho' Mr. Destouches can^ 
hot give further assistance,) this assistance at least may 
be depended upon, so as to hope for the return of/ the 
ship should M. de Tilly have left the bay. The bottom 
of the Bedfort is said to be damaged; the Amarila was 
said to have been dismasted. Suppose those circum- 
stances were true* they Would be in our favour. If a 
detachment was to go from New- York to Portsmouth, 
Westpbint would be less in danger. If Cornwallis 
-continues advancing on, perhaps our being in the neigh-* 
bourhood of Arnold may be of service ; I will, howe- 
ver, confine myself literally to my instructions, and if 
Colonel Gouvion writes me with certainty that M. de 
Tilly is gone ; if I am not led to suppose he will return, 
I will march back the detachment ; for the present I am 
.going on because upon the increasing of the enemy's 
force at Gardner's Bay, you recommended dispatch to 


me ; I hope, however, that I will hear from your Excel- 
lency. Now that the chain is established, Colonel Pick- 
ering says, that in six days I may receive your answer 
at the head of Elk. The hope of seeing the French 
ship again, or some other reason, may detain me ; but 
your answer will determine my movements, and I can 
receive it by the 8th, which is about the time when it 
was thought we would arrive at the head of Elk. 

My expectations are not great, and I think we have 
but few chances for us. I shall make all possible dis- 
patch, and listen particularly to the voice of prudence ; 
however, some hazard must be ran, if we undertake 
under these circumstances. 

General Duportail having not left this place, I am led 
to hope that if we don't go I may return in time for the 
journey to Rhode Island. I most earnestly beg, my 
dear General, that you will favor me with an immediate 

With the highest respect and most tender affection, 
I have the honor to be, your's, &c. 

P.S.-^ One of our transports from Trenton had got 
aground, but the troops of her will still be in time for 
her at the head of Elk. Some new difficulties have 
been made for the collecting of shoes, but I will try to 
get over them. From the extraordinary motions of 
Lord Cornwailis, whom we have not heard of these 
many days, and from the movements in New- York, I 
am led to hope that I will hear from you respecting my 
future conduct, and that I may be at head-quarters 
before you think it prudent to leave New Windsor.* 

* See the letters of Washington in Spaits' Writ, of Wash. vtol. 7, p> 444 & 447. 



Head of Elk, March the 7th, 1751. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Contrary winds, heavy rains, 
disappointments of vessels, and every inconvenience to 
which we had no remedy, have been, from the day of 
my arrival, combined against our embarkation. I hope, 
however, we will be on board to-morrow morning, and 
as nothing certain has been heard from the French 
ships, no time will be lost on our part for the celerity of 
the expedition. 

The troops will embark five miles below this place, 
and three miles higher up than the Point where General 
Howe landed. There will be more room for the 
arrangements of our vessels, and the shallowness of the 
water insures us against the enterprise of any vessel of 
force. In this situation we may wait for intelligence 
from our friends. The State of Maryland have made 
to me every offer in their power. 1 will improve this 
opportunity of making up some deficiencies in the 
Quarter-Master and Engineer's Department, of insuring 
to us a good stock of provisions, and upon the intelli- 
gence received that Baron de Steubens was gone with 
a large detachment to the Southward, I had hinted the 
possibility of getting some Militia from the lower coun- 
tries, and repairing some cannon at Baltimore ; but 
having read the inclosed from the Baron, I will write 
again to Governor Lee, (as my letter has been gone but 
two days,) and save the State from any expence of that 
kind. To the obtaining of vessels has been joined the 
difficulty of getting them up the river, as they were 
taking every opportunity to slip them off. All the ves- 
sels, three excepted, are only bay craft, and our Admi- 
raPs ship mounts twelve guns* I have prepared some 


kind of orders for that fleet, but hope to be relieved 
from my Naval command by the arrival of a French 
frigate, and have, at all events, sent for Commodore 
Nicholson of Baltimore. Mr. McHenry has been very 
active in accelerating the measures of his State. 

By a letter from Colonel Gouvion, dated Yucomico 
River, I find that after many adventures, he had landed 
there on the 4th, and was proceeding by land to his 
destination. The wind is fair enough to come up the 
Bay, and hope soon to hear from our friends. 

The inclosed letter from the Baron having first come 
into my hand, and being on public service, as it was 
waited upon to be forwarded with dispatch, I took the 
liberty to open it, but was very sorry to have done it 
after a letter of the same date had came also to hand ; 
both say the same thing (at least in every material 
point,) and I am happy to find that the Baron's prepara- 
tions are going on rapidly. 

Whatever may be the Baron's opinion upon the facil- 
ity of taking, sword in hand, the fortifications of Ports- 
mouth, I will not hazard any thing before I have consi- 
dered the matter with my own eyes. Arnold had so 
much time to prepare, and plays SQ deep a game ; 
nature has made the position so respectable, and some 
of the troops under his orders have been in so many 
actions that I don't flatter myself to succeed so easily 
as it may be thought. The prospect of preserving 
Naval superiority must, I think, decide if we are to save 
bloodshed by regular approaches, or to risk our men 
into the dangers of an assault ; but I would like to 
destroy the works in some measure before we attempt 
to storm them. A conversation with the Baron, with 
Colonel Gouvion, and some other officers, joined to 
what I can see myself, will better fix my mind on the 
matter than it can be at present. When I left Philadel- 
phia General Wayne was not far from hoping he could 
soon collect a thousand men ; but I am not so sanguine 
in my expectations ; I am, however, trying to prepare 


matters foi this number of m.en, but I think that a suffi- 
ciency of vessels, (unless ours are sent back,) will not be 
obtained in a few days. Let General Wayne arrive in 
lime or not, when he comes under my directions I wish 
to know if in case we succeed, he must be sent to Genl. 
Greene. Supposing he is to go there, would your Excel- 
lency think of selecting some riflemen for the grand 
army ? It seems to me that I heard you once mention- 
ing this matter. The State of Virginia, I am told, finds 
difficulties in the keeping of prisoners. Suppose some- 
thing of the kind was stated to me, am I to alter any 
thing in what you said to me on the subject ? 

I am in a great hurry to go, my dear General; but 
let us succeed or fall in the object we have in view, I 
shan't be less hurried to return with the detachment to 
head-quarters, where I hope to be again as soon as you 
may possibly expect. I beg you will present my res- 
pects to Mrs. Washington, and Mrs. Hamilton, and com- 
pliments to the family. I have received Mr. Washing- 
ton's answer, he is waiting for me at the Baron's 

With the highest respect and most tender affection I 
have the honor to be, your's, &e.* 



Off Turkey Point, March the 9th. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Commodore Nicholson has 
joined us sooner than I expected ; he answers to con- 
duct the detachment to Annapolis without the least 
danger, there he will wait for intelligence from me, but 

* See Washington's letter in Sparks' Writ, in Wash, vol. 8, p. 449. 


says that if the French fleet are below he might go with 
safety (if not for the vessels at least for the troops) to the 
point of our destination. Nicholson will be very useful 
to the French fleet as he knows well the bay. 

I will be at Hampton to-morrow night or the day 
after, and three days after my arrival, if the French 
(whose arrival has not been heard of) consent to send a 
frigate, the detachment may come in two days from 

Most respectfully, my dear General, your's &c. 

P. S. I have written to the State of Maryland to tell 
them we don't want any of their Militia, I have left to 
the Navy Board to judge of the propriety to send out 
the Ariel adding that it was no more essential, 



York, March 15th, 1781. 

My DEAR GENERAL, The number of small frigates 
and privateers that are in the bay, made it impossible 
for me to carry the detachment farther down than An- 
napolis, and I have requested the Governor of Maryland 
as well as the principal officers of the detachmentj 
to give out that we are going to join General Greene ; 
but the object of the expedition is so perfectly well 
known every where, that our sole dependence to keep 
Arnold must be upon the apprehension he has of a 
French fleet being cruizing off the capes. 

For my part, I came in a barge from Annapolis, and 
very luckily escaped the dangers that were in the way. 
Colonel Harrison will have given to your Excellency a 
minute detail of the reasons which have prompted me to 
this measure. I have taken his advice on the matter, 
and have no doubt but that your Excellency (consider- 



ing the probability that no frigate would have been sent) 
will approve of the step I have taken to forward as much 
as possible both the advantage of the expedition and the 
honor of the American arms. 

On my arrival, (yesterday afternoon) I have found 
that Baron de Stuben had been very active in making 
preparations, and agreeable to what he tells me, we 
shall have five thousand militia ready to operate. This, 
with the Continental detachment, is equal to the busi- 
ness, and we might very well do without any land force 
from Newport. 

By papers found in the baggage of a British officer, 
(taken in a boat) it seems that General Gregory had a 
correspondence with the enemy. The Baron has sus- 
pended him, but he is still with the troops. 

Arnold is so well acquainted with the coming of the 
detachment, and his object is so well known, that, as I 
said before, our only chance to keep him must be the 
idea of a French fleet being off the capes ; he is fortify- 
ing at Portsmouth, and trying to get provisions. There 
has been some trifling skirmishes with the militia. 

To my great disappointment the French^fleet have 
not yet appeared. If the project has not been given up 
they must be expected every minute ; they had double 
the time which they wanted, and such winds as ought 
have brought them in four days. 

I wanted to hold up the idea of my going to the South- 
ward ; but the Baron says that if the detachment is not 
announced, the militia will desert. He wanted me to 
take the command immediately, but I thought it more 
polite not to do it until the detachment arrives or opera- 
tions are begun. 

In your first letter to the Baron, I wish my dear Gen- 
eral, you will write to him that I have been much 
satisfied with his preparations. I want to please him, 
and harmony shall be my first object. As in all cases, 
(even this of my going to the Southward and coming 
here to make arrangements with the Baron) I would 


Reconnoitre the enemies ; I will take an opportunity of 
doing it as soon as possible. They have not as yet 
been reconnoitred by the Baron, and I think it theiefore 
more necessary for me to see with my own eyes. 

As I have just arrived, my dear General, I cannot give 
you a very exact account of matters. 

This letter I send by duplicate, and have the honor to 
be with the highest respect and most tender affection, 
yours, &c. 


Elk, April the 10th, 17S1. 

DEAR GENERAL, By my letter of the 8th your Ex- 
cellency will have known of my arrival at this place, 
and the preparations I was making to proceed South- 
ward. I took at the same time the liberty to inform 
you that the great want of money, baggage, clothing, 
under which both officers and men are suffering, arid 
the hope they had of being furnished with a part of 
these articles from their States, would render it very 
inconvenient for the troops to proceed immediately by 
land ; they begin to be sensible of the reason which 
detains them here, aad are uneasy about it, as they are 
so unprovided for the journey. I have, however, hurried 
on preparations, and will be able to set off to-morrow 
morning. The circumstances of my being ready sooner 
than I expected, and a letter from the Governor of Mary- 
land telling that six ships, whom I take to be plundering 
vessels, were coming up the Potomac, induces me not to 
wait for your Excellency's answer. Not that I pretend to 
defend the towns of Alexandria, Baltimore and Anna- 
polis, at a time, or to stop the depredations of the 
enemy's parties in a country where their naval superi- 


ority renders it impossible ; but because I don't think 
any consideration must delay the execution of superior 
orders, and because, if the corps was not sent to South* 
ward they would with alacrity march back thirty of 
forty miles more to rejoin the grand army. 

Having received no particulars of your Excellency's 
journey to Rhode Island, but by the paper, a letter from 
you to Mr. Lund Washington, and private letters from 
some friends, I cannot know what change has taken 
place in your plans, and am not able to account for the 
inactivity which you foresee for the grand army. Let-* 
ters from Ministers, letters from my friends, intelligences 
from other quarters, every thing was combined to flatter 
me with the hope that our grand and decisive object 
would be in contemplation* I then was not displeased 
with the dispositions of the enemy that weakened that 
place. It is probable that your Excellency's plans have 
changed, and you intend to prosecute the war to the 

I had yesterday the pleasure of dining on board the 
Hermione, and left her under sail to go to Rhode Island, 
where she will probably be the day after to-morrow* 
Mr. Delatouche, uncle to captain Latouche, will, it is 
said, command the squadron of the second division. I 
Was conversing with his nephew, on whom he has an 
entire confidence on the expedition against New York, 
and he assured me that his Uncle's plan would certainly 
be to take possession of the harbour, and send a force 
up the North River, which you know is entirely the 
thing that you wanted M. de Vernay to do. 

Mr. Delatouche having confidentially told me that he 
had a great influence over Mr. Destouches, I observed 
to him how important it was for the common cause that 
the French fleet might have the greatest possible activity* 
We were also conversing of the difficulties we laboured 
under for transportation, and he told me that the next 
day after his arrival at Rhode Island, unless such obsta- 
cles occurred as he could not foresee, Mr. Destouches 


*vvould make you an offer of the ship 1'Eveille, and the 
four frigates to carry twelve hundred men to any part of 
continent you might think proper. Those ships are too 
strong to be afraid of frigates, and too fast sailers to be 
in the least concerned by the fear of a squadron. 
Thinking that (particularly as Lord Cornwallis has 
retreated) our march would take us forty days, where 
desertion and sickness, occasioned by want of shoes 
and every other necessary, as well as by the heat of the 
season, would much reduce our numbers, and that these 
ships, with the addition of the two frigates at Philadel- 
phia, armed en flute, \vould in sailing on the 4th or 5th of 
May, carry 1500 men to Wilmington, Georgetown, or 
any place in the rear of Lord Cornwallis or the neigh- 
borhood of General Greene, I thought it my duty to 
encourage this idea, which would bring us to the point 
of operations sooner than we could arrive by land. It 
would also give you the time of forming at Morristown 
or Trenton, a detachment well provided, agreeably to 
the project you had in contemplation after the return of 
this corps. The appointment of officers could be made 
without affecting the delicacy of the regimental officers, 
nor the honor of those already employed. While we 
would be operating, Mr. Destouches might keep cruizers 
off Charleston. These ideas, my dear General, are 
only thrown out in consequence of the freedom you have 
often ordered me to take. What Mr. Destouches may 
do is uncertain, and I did not think myself authorised to 
express to him the least wish on that head. It was my 
duty to relate our difficulties to you, and the chances I 
foresaw to see them relieved in some measure ; but 
unless the bad weather, of which there is now a prospect, 
makes it impossible, I will be to-morrow at the ferry at 
the Susquehannah. 

You may have known from Mr. de La Luzerne, that 
two millions and a half had been given to Mr. Franklin, 
-and that Marquis de Castries and Count de Vergennes, 
were trying to obtain a sum more adequate to our wants. 


This, however, the Minister of France has requested 
me not to mention, as it was as yet an uncertainty, and 
would perhaps give ill-grounded hopes, destructive of 
the internal efforts we ought to make. I am told that 
just before the departure of Mr. Dela Peyrouse, some 
dispatches were sent to Brest ; but do not think they 
contain any thing relating to our operations, as Marquis 
de Castries writes me that the determination of the 
Council upon our letters will be sent by the ships who is 
to convoy the expected vessels. 

I am very sorry I have not seen the Aid de Camp who 
had a verbal message from General Greene. Inclosed 
I send to your Excellency the letter I have received 
on the occasion. Perhaps, did he mean to propose 
an expedition towards Cape-fear or Georgetown, which 
might be made with the light squadron above mentioned. 
An additional circumstance is, that 1'EveilU will now 
be commanded by Mr. de Lombard, captain Latouche's 
uncle, who is entirely under that Gentleman's influence. 

I write to the board of war to get some shoes and 
other parts of clothing. I will this morning speak to the 
commanding officers of battalions on our intended jour- 
ney ; but have not yet said any thing to Colonel Gimat 
and Major Galvan, because it is possible that new cir- 
cumstances may engage you to change your dispositions. 
Going by water, if possible, would level most all diffi- 
culties ; but if I don't hear from you, I will always 
proceed on. I have the honor to be, yours &c.* 

* See Washington's Letters of 21st of March and 5th and 6th of April. Sparks' Writ, 
<of Wash, volume 7. pp. 449 and 463, 8469. See also^-Spavks' Writ, of Wash. vol. 8 
Appendix N. 1. 



Susquehannah ferry April 13th,17Sl. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I received your Excellency's 
letter relating to Colonel Gouvion. It would have been 
very agreable to me to keep this officer, your orders have 
been sent to Philadelphia where he is for the present. 
However distant I may be from the scene, I am. happy 
to find that your Excellency hopes to undertake the grand 
object we have had in contemplation. 

By a letter just received from the board of War, it 
seems that representations of wants have been made 
which they have mistaken for objections from me to our 
journey southward. I have said to some officers that 
our proximity to the southern states was the reason 
which had induced your Excellency to send this detach- 
ment, but I hope I need not assure you that I never 
thought of intimating the least idea of alteration to your 
Excellency's projects, but such as you would think of 
making yourself after your own ideas and intelligences. 
Perhaps my letter to the board of War may appear disre- 
spectful or impolite, but nothing could stop me in an 
instance where it might be suspected I objected to j^our 
plans, or even differed in opinion. You know me too 
perfectly not to think an explanation useless. 

It is confidently reported that the second division is 
arrived in the capes of Delaware, consisting of nine sail 
of the line, this was the number mentioned to me by the 
Marquis de Castries to be in harbour, your Excellency 
would in that case have a brilliant Campaign to the north- 

With the highest and most affectionate respect 

Yours &c. 

* Sec Letters of Wash, of the llth April. Sparks' Writ of Wash. vol. &, p. 11. 




Susquehannab ferry April 13th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL Had your Excellency's answer 
to my letter of the 8th, been forwarded with an equal 
celerity that your favor of the 6th, I would have received 
it before this time, but whatever change my new situa- 
tion could make in your Excellency's dispositions, I 
thought it rny duty in the mean while to obey the 
positive orders I had received, the Troops are now 
crossing the ferry and will with all possible speed 
proceed to Richmond. 

By a letter received from General Green I find that 
he is strongly of opinion that I must go to the south- 
ward, his intention si to carry the seat of war into South 
Carolina, there by preventing a junction between Arnold 
and Cornwallis, he gives me many excllent reasons to 
justify the movement and requests me to make to Rich- 
mond, and they will, if possible, increase my zeal to. 
execute your Excellency's orders. 

General Green's opinion is that Lord Cornwallis will 
fall down towords Wilmington, his own project is to 
carry the war into South Carolina. Under these circum- 
stances a corps of Light Infantry embarked at Philadel- 
phia on board a light squadron might have been upon 
the seat of war in a very short passage. 

I cannot help fearing, my dear General, that our cam- 
paign will take a defensive turn which is far from 
answering our first plans and expectations. Major Me 
Pherson is with me as a volunteer, that officer has most 
zealously employed himself and has been most danger- 
ously exposed in the discovery of a plot made to furnish 
the enemy with provisions, he has managed this matter 
with infinite address, being for two days and one night 


with six soldiers who, as well as himself, put on the air 
of British, and, in company with a spy who thought 
them to be enemy and by a most violent gale of wind, 
crossed the bay in a small boat, by which means he was 
made sensible that a trade of flour is carried with the 
enemy from the western shore of Maryland, and saved a 
magazine of 800 barrells of continental flour which would 
otherwise have fallen into the hands of the enemy. In 
case we proceed southerly perhaps will it be possible for 
General Green to give Major McPherson a command 
in some detachment ; I would be happy if he was 
recommended to him by your Excellency. My deter- 
mination being to go on with rapidity, unless I am 
recalled, your Excellency may easily judge of my move- 
ments from the answer I will probably receive in a few 
hours. Was I to as'sure your Excellency that this journey 
is perfectly agreable to the Troops, I would not use that 
candor which you have so much right to expect, but their 
zeal and discipline insure their readiness to obey. I 
shall do my utmost to prevent desertion, and unless I 
was recalled, I shall proceed with celerity. But I beg 
your Excellency to remember that experience has often 
taught us how much reduced has ever been the number 
of our troops from the time of their departure to that of 
their arrival at the Southern army. 

With the highest and most affectionate respect, 

Yours &c. 


Susquehannah ferry April 14th, 17S1. 

MY DEAR GENERAL Your Excellency's letter of the 
llth, has overtaken me at this place, and having given 
to you an account of every measure I thought proper to 




Hanover Court House, April 28th, 1781. 

SIR,' Having received intelligence that General 
Phillips' army were preparing at Portsmouth, for 
offensive operations. I left at Baltimore every thing 
that could impede our march, to follow us under a 
proper escort, and with about a thousand men, officers 
included ; hastened towards Richmond which I appre- 
hended would be a principal object with the enemy. 

Being on our way, I have received successive accounts 
of their movements. On the 21st, the British troops, 
commanded by their Generals, Philips and Arnold, 
landed at City Point on the south side of James River. 
A thousand militia under Maj. General Caroude Stuben 
and General Muhlenberg, were posted at Blandford to 
oppose them, and on the 25th they had an engagement 
with the enemy ; the militia behaved very gallantly, and 
our loss, it is said, is about twenty killed and wounded. 
The same day, the enemy whose force it is reported to 
be near 2500 regular troops, marched into Petersburgi 
Yesterday they moved to Osburn's, about thirteen miles 
from Richmond, and after a skirmish with a coips of 
militia, destroyed some vessels that had been collected 
there, but have not yet attempted to cross the river. 
Baron de Stuben^ is at the same side, and has removed 
to Falling Creek Church. 

The Continental detachment will in a few hours 
arrive at this place, 20 miles from Richmond. The 
enemy are more than double our force in regular troops 
and their command of the waters gives them great 

With the highest respect, I have the honor to be 
yours, &c. 




Camp on Pamunkey River, May 3d, 1781, 

,-^-! had lately the honor to inform you of the 
enemy's movements towards Richmond, and the forced 
marches I was making to its defence. The detachment 
arrived on the 29th ; the British army was thirteen miles 
distant on the other side of the river. Petersbu rg, Ches- 
terfield Court House, and part of our vessels had fallen 
into their hands. Our regular force consisted of 900 
men, rank and file ; that of the enemy, of 2,300, at the 
lowest estimate. 

The command of the water, and such a superiority 
of regular troops, gave them possession of our shore* 
There was no crossing for us, but under a circuit of 
fifteen miles, and from the number and size of their 
boats, their passage over the river was six times quicker 
than ours. 

Richmond being their main object. I determined to 
defend this capital, where a quantity of public stores 
and tobacco was contained. General Nelson was there, 
with a corps of militia, and Generals Stuben and 
Muhlenberg, higher up on the other side. The same 
evening, we were by summons from General Philips, 
made accountable for the public stores on board vessels 
near the town, (which he declared) should certainly fall 
into his hands. Next morning the enemy moved to 
Manchester, opposite Richmond, where they burnt the 
ware-houses. Six hundred men ventured on this side, 
but were timely recalled, and being charged by a few 
dragoons of Major Nelson, flew into their. boats with 

Knowing General Phillip's intention against Rich 
mond, (orders for attack had been already given) I 


directed Baron de Stuben to join us, and collected our 
force to receive the enemy, but the same night they 
retreated to Osburn's, from thence to the neck of land 
formed by James River and Appamatox, where they 
have re-embarked. Col. Pleasant's and Good's battal- 
lions of militia, were sent on each side of the river and 
gave annoyance to their troops and boats. The enemy 
have lost some men killed, prisoners and deserters. 
Since the British army landed at City Point, (some flour 
excepted at the Court-house) no public property h-as 
been destroyed. Yours &c. 



Camp near Bottom's Creek, May 4th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, I request you will receive my 
affectionate acknowledgements for your kind letters. 
Every mark of friendship I receive from you adds to my 
happiness, as I love you with all the sincerity and 
warmth of my heart, and the sentiment I feel for you 
goes to the very extent of my affections. 

Inclosed I send you, my dear General, two copies of 
letters to General Greene, which I also sent to Congress 
for their information. You will also find copies of the 
strange letters I have received from General Phillips, 
and the answers which, if he does not behave better, 
will break off our correspondence. 

The leaving of my artillery appears a strange whim, 
but had I waited for it Richmond was lost, and Major 
Galvan, who has exerted himself to the utmost, cannot 
be with us under two days, as he never could obtain or 
seize horses for the artillery and ammunition waggons. 
It is not without trouble I have made this rapid march. 
'General Phillips has expressed to an officer on flag, the 


astonishment he felt at our celerity, and when on the 
30th, as he was going to give the signal to attack, he 
reconnoitred our position, Mr. Osburn, who was with 
him, says that he flew into a violent passion and swore 
vengeance against me and the corps I had brought 
with me. 

I am, however, uneasy, my dear General, and do not 
know what the public will think of our conduct. I 
cannot say in any official letter that no boats, no 
waggons, no intelligence, not one spy could be obtained ; 
that if once I had been manoeuvring with Phillips he 
had every advantage over me ; that a defeat would 
have scattered the militia, lost the few arms we have, 
arid knocked down this handful of Continental troops. 
Great deal of mischief had been already done. I did 
not know but what the enemy meant to establish a post. 
Under these circumstances I thought it better to fight 
on none but my own grounds and to defeat the main and 
most valuable object of the enemy. Had I gone on the 
other side, the enemy would have given me die slip and 
taken Richmond, leaving nothing to me, but the reputa- 
tion of a rash unexperienced young man. Our stores 
could not be removed. 

No orders from General Greene have as yet come to 
me. I cannot conceive the reason of his delay in 
answering my letters. In the meanwhile, Phillips is 
my object, and if with a thousand men lean be opposed 
to three thousand in this State, I think I am useful to 
General Greene. In a former letter he tells me that his 
object is to divide the enemy, and having no orders I 
must be regulated by his opinion. 

The enemy are gone down the river. I have detached 
some militia to Hoods where I mean to make a fort. 
Colonel Hennis, with another corps of militia, is gone 
towards Williamsburg. His orders are in case the 
enemy land there, to annoy them, and in case they mean 
to establish a post, he is to disturb them until I arrive. 
This position is 16 miles from Richmond, 42 from Will- 


iamsburg, 60 from Fredericksburg. I have sent an 
officer at Point Comfort, and established a chain of 
expresses to know if they appear to turn towards 
Potomac. Should it be the case, Fredericksburg will 
have my attention, having missed Mr. Hunter's works 
at Fredericksburg mast be their next object as they are 
the only support to our operations in the southward. 
Your first letters, my dear General, will perhaps tell me 
something more about your coming this way. How 
happy I should be to see you, I hope I need not express. 
As you are pleased to give me the choice, I shall frankly 
tell my wishes. If you co-operate with the French 
against the place, you know I wish to be at head 
quarters. If something is co-operated in Virginia, I will 
find myself very happily situated for the present. In 
case my detachment remains in this State I wish not to 
leave it, as I have a separate and active command, 
though it does not promise great glory ; but as you gave 
me leave to do it, I shall in a few days write to you 
more particularly on my private concerns. It is not 
only on account of my own situation that I wish the 
French fleet may come into the bay.. Should they come 
even without troops, it is ten to one that they will block 
up Phillips in some rivers, and then I answer he is 
ruined. Had I but ships, my situation would be the 
most agreeable in the world. Adieu my dear General, 
you will make me happy to write me sometimes. With 
the highest respect and most tender affection, I have the 
honor to be, yours, &c.* 

* See Letters of Wash, of 31 May See Sparks' Writ., v. 8., p. 60. 



Richmond, May the 8th, 1781, 

MY DEAR GENERAL, There is no fighting here, 
unless you have a naval superiority, or an army 
mounted upon race-horses. Phillips' plan against Rich- 
mond has been defeated ; he was going towards 
Portsmouth, and I thought it should be enough for me to 
oppose him at some principal points in this State. But 
now it appears I will have business to transact with two 
armies, and this is rather too much. 

By letters from North Carolina, I find that Lord 
Cornwallis, who I had been assured had sailed from 
Charleston, is advancing towards Hallifax. In conse- 
quence of letters from the same quarter, General Phillip's 
has altered his plans, and returned to a place called 
Brandon on the south side of James river, where he 
landed the night before last. Our detachment is under 
march towards the Hallifax road, his command of the 
water, enabled him to land where I could not reach him. 
The brigade at Petersburg is destroyed, and unless he 
acts with an uncommon degree of folly, he will be at 
Hallifax before me. Each of these armies is more than 
the double superior to me. We have no boats, few militia, 
and less arms. I will try to do for the best, and hope to, 
deserve your approbation. 

Nothing can attract my sight from the supplies and 
reinforcements destined to General Green's army. 
While I am going to get beaten by both armies or each 
of them seperately, the Baron remains at Richmond 
where he hurries the collection of recruits, and every 
other requisite. I have forbidden every department to 
give me any thing that may be thought useful to General 
Greene, and should a battle be expected (an event which 



I will try to keep offj) no consideration will prevent our 
sending to Carolina 800 recruits, who, I hope, may be 
equiped in a fortnight. When General Green becomes 
equal to offensive operations, this quarter will be 
relieved. I have written to Wayne, to hasten his march, 
but unless I am very hard pushed, shall request him to 
proceed south-ward. The militia have been ordered 
out, but are slow, unarmed, and not yet used to this 
business. General Green, from whom I had as yet no 
letters, was on the 26th, before Camden, but did not 
think himself equal to the storming of the works. My 
respects, if you please, to Mr. Washington, and compli- 
ments to the family. Most respectfully and affection- 
ately. Yours &c. 


Welton, north side of James River, May 18th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL. Having been directed by 
General Greene to take command of the troops in 
Virginia. I have also received orders from him, that 
every account from this quater, be immediately trans- 
mitted to Congress, and to your Excellency ; in obedi- 
ence to which I shall have the honor to relate our move- 
ments, aud those of the combined armies of the enemy. 
When General Phillips retreated from Richmond, his 
project was to stop at Williamsburg, there to collect 
contributions which he had imposed, this induced me to 
take a position between Pamunkey, and Chikahomany 
rivers, which equally covered Richmond, and some 
other interesting parts of the State, and from where I 
detached General Nelson with some militia towards 


Having got as low down as that place, General Phillips 
seemed to discover an intention to make a landing, but 
upon advices received by a vessel from Portsmouth, 
the enemy weighed anchor, and -with all the sail they 
could croud, hastened up the river, this intilligence made 
me apprehensive that the enemy intended to manoeuvre 
me out of Richmond where I returned immediately, and 
again collected our small force, intelligence was the 
same day received that Lord Cornwallis (who f had 
been assured, to have embarked at Wilmington^) was 
marching through North Carolina, (this was confirmed 
by the landing of General Phillips at Brandon south side 
of James River. ) Apprehending that both armies would 
move to meet at a central point, I march towards Peters- 
burg and intended to have established a communication 
over Appamatox and James river, but on the 9th, 
General Phillips took possesstion of Petersburgh ; a 
place where his right flank being covered by James 
River, his front by Appamatox^, on which the bridges had 
been destroyed in the first part of the invasion, and his 
left not being attackable but by a long circuit through 
fords that at this season are very uncertain, I could not 
(even with an epual force,) have got any chance of 
fighting him, -unless I had given up this side of James 
River, and the country from which reinforcements are 
expected. It being at the enemy's choice to force us to 
an action, which their own position insured them against 
OUT enter prizes-, I thought it proper to shift this situation, 
and marched the greater part of our troops to this place 
about ten miles below Richmond. Letters from 
General Nash, General Summer, and General Jones are 
positive as to the arrival of Colonel Tarleton, and 
announce that of Lord Cornwallis at Halifax. Having 
received a request from North 'Corolina for ammunition, 
I made a detachment of 500 men -under General 
Muhlenberg to escort 20,000 cartridges over Appomatox, 
and to divert the enemys attention, Colonel Gimat, with 
his battalion, and 4 field pieces commanded their posi- 


tion from this side of the River. I hope our ammunition 
will arrive safe, as before General Muhlenberg returned 
he put it in a safe road with proper directions. On the 
13th, General Phillips died and the command devolved 
on General Arnold. General Wayne's detachment has 
not yet been herd of, before he arrives, it becomes very 
dangerous to risk any engagement where fas the British 
armies being vastly superior to us) we shall certainly be 
beaten, and by the loss of arms, the dispersion of 
tnilitia, arid the difficulty of a junction with General 
Wayne, we may loose a less dangerous chance of 

These considerations have induced me to think that 
with our so very great inferiority, and with the advan- 
tage the enemy have by their cavalry and naval superi- 
ority, there would be much rashness in fighting them on 
any but our grounds, and this side of the river, and that 
an engagement which I fear will be soon necessary, 
ought, if possible to be deferred till the Pensylvanian's 
arrive, whom I have by several letters requested to 
hasten to our assistance. 

No report has lately come from near Hallifax, though 
a very active officer has been sent for that purpose ; but 
every intelligence confirms that Lord Cornwallis is 
hourly expected at Petersburg, it is true there never was 
such difficulty in getting tolerable intelligence, as there 
is in this country, and the immense superiority of the 
enemy's horses, render it very precarious to hazard our 
small parties. 

Arnold has received a small reinforcement from 

I am dear Generalj your most obedient humble servant, 

Yours &c. 

P. S. Injustice to Major Mitchell and Captain Muir, 
who were taken at Petersburg, I have the honor to 
inform your Excellency that they had been sent to that 
place on public service. I have requested General 
Lawson to collect and take command of the militia south 


of Appamatox, local impediments was thrown in the 
road from Hallifax to Petersburg, and precautions taken 
to remove the horses from the enemy's reach. Should 
it be possible to get arms, some militia might be brought 
into the field, but General Greene and myself labour 
under the same disadvantage, the few militia we can 
with great pains collect arrive unarmed, and we have 
not a sufficiency of weapons to put into their hands.* 


Richmond, May 23, 1781. 

MY DEAR HAMILON, I have been long complaining 
that I had nothing to do, and want of employment 
was an objection I had to my going to the south- 
ward ; but for the present, my dear friend, my com- 
plaint is quite of an opposite nature, and I have so 
many arrangements to make, so many difficulties to 
combat, so many enemies to deal with, that I am 
much of -a General as will make me an historian of 
misfortunes, and nail my curse upon the ruins of what 
good soldiers are pleased to call the army in Virginia. 
There is an age past since I heard from you. I acknowl- 
edge that on my part, I have not written so often as I 
ought to have done, but you will excuse this silence in 
favor of my very embarrassing circumstances, however 
remote you may be from your former post of aid-de- 
camp, to the Commander-in-chief, I am sure you are 
nevertheless acquainted with every transaction at head 
quarters. My letters have served to report information, 
and I shall consequently abstain from repetitions. 

Our forced march saved Richmond. Phillips was 
going down, and thus far I am very happy. Phillips' 
"return, his landing at Brandon, south side of James and 

* See Washington's Letter of the 31st May. Sparks' Writ, of Wash., v. 8., p. 60. 


Appamatox rivers. Had Phillips marched to Hallifax 
1 was determined to follow him, and should have risked 
every thing rather to omit making adversion in favor of 
Greene ; but that enemy took possession of Petersburg, 
and obliged me to stick to the side of the river whence 
reinforcements are expected. Both armies have formed 
their junction of between four and five thousand mem 
We have no Continentals ; their infantry is near five to 
one ; their cavalry ten to one. Our militia are not 
numerous, without arms, and not used to war. Gov- 
ernment wants energy, and there is nothing to enforce 
the laws. General Greene has directed me to take 
command in this State, and I must tell you by the way, 
his letter is very polite and affectionate ; it then became 
my duty to arrange the departments, which 1 found in 
the greatest confusion and relaxation ; nothing can be 
obtained, and yet expenses are enormous. The Baron 
and the few new levies we could collect, are ordered to 
South Carolina. Is it not strange that General Wayne's 
detachment cannot be heard of ? They ure to go to 
Carolina ; but should 1 have them for a few days, I am 
at liberty to keep them. This permission I will improve 
so far as to receive one blow, that being beat, I may at 
least be beat with some decency. There are accounts 
that Lord Cornwallis is very strong ; others make him 
very weak. In this country there is no getting good 
intelligence. I request you will write me if you ap- 
prove of my conduct. The command of the waters, 
the superiority in cavalry, and the great disproportion of 
forces, gave the enemy such advantages that I durst not 
venture out, and listen to my fondness for enterprise ; 
to speak truth, I was afraid of myself as much as of the 
enemy. Independence has rendered me the more 
Cautious, as I know my own warmth ; but if the Penn- 
sylvanians come, Lord Cornwallis shall pay something 
for his victory. 

I wish a reinforcement of light infantry to recruit the 
i !5attallions, or a detachment under General Huntington, 


was sent to me. I wish Lawson or Sheldon were imme- 
diately dispatched with some horses. Come here, my 
dear friend, and command our artillery in Virginia. I 
want your advices and your exertions. If you grant 
my request, you will most oblige your friend. 

Yours, &c. 



Richmond, May the 24th,17Sl. 

MY DEAR GENERAL-^The junction of Lord Corn^ 
wallis with the other army at Petersburg' was an event 
that, from local circumstances, and from their so great 
superiority, it was impoisible to prevent, it took place 
on the 20th, and having lost every hope to operate, a 
timely stroke in conjunction with the Pensylvanians, my 
ideas were confined to defensive measures. I therefore 
moved up to Richmond, where precautions were taken 
to remove every valuable property, whether public or 

By an officer that was in Halifax after Lord Corn^ 
wallis, I hear he has not left any post at that place, it 
appears, his sick and wounded remained at Wilmington, 
and were reimplaced by that garison. Reports concer- 
ning the numbers are so different, that I cannot trust 
anything but my eyes, until such an oportunity offers, 
this is the order of march, in which it is said his Lord- 
ship crossed Roanoke. Col. Tarlton's legion, Col, 
Hamilton's corps, 23d, 71st, 33d, British regiments, 200 
tories, an Hessian regiment, the light infantry and guards 
with six field pieces. I am told General Leslie and 
Genl. O'Hara are with him, I have received successive 
and repeated accounts, that a British fleet of transports 
was arrived at Hampton, they were said to consist of 


14 large vessels, and 16 smaller ones, under convoy of 4 
three large frigates. Mr. Day D.Q.M. at Williamsburg, 
writes that on the 22nd, 12 sail of large ships ; a sloop, 
and schooner got underway opposite James Town ; those 
ships full of men, and some horses on board the sloop. 
We have no accounts of any fleet having sailed from 

Yesterday afternoon, we had an heavy rain, which 
Colonel Tarlton improved in surprising some militia in 
Chesterfield County, thirty of whom fell into his hands. 

This morning at 9 o'clock the enemy moved from 
Petersburg towards City Point, and destroyed the 
bridge they had lately constructed over Appamatox. I 
have just received accounts, that a body of them has 
landed at Westover. These are said to be the men w r ho 
came up the river from Hampton, previous to which 
General Arnold had received a small reinforcement 
from Portsmouth. 

To my great mortification, 1 have heard this morning, 
that the Pensylvanians are not so near as I had been, by 
every account positively assured. General Wayne 
writes me he will hasten to my support, and I am confi- 
dent he will not lose time at this critical moment, but 
before he arrives, it is impossible that 900 continentals 
and 40 horses, with a body of militia by no means so 
considerable as they are reported to be, and whom it is 
so difficult to arm, be with any advantage opposed to 
such a superiority of forces, such a number of cavalry, 
to which maybe added, their very prejudicial command 
of the writers. 

Our handful of men being the point to which militia 
may be collected, and the only check, however small it 
is, that the enemy may have in this state, it ought, I 
think, to be managed with a great deal of prudence as 
its preservation is so very important to the fate of opera- 
tions in Virginia. 

With the highest respect. I have the honor to be 

Yours &c. 




Camp between Rappahannock and North Anna, June 3rd, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Inclosed you will find the 
copy of a letter to General Green. He at first had 
requested that I would directly write to you, since which 
his orders have been different, but he directed me to 
forward you copies of my official accounts. So many 
letters are lost in their way that I do not care to avoid 
repetitions. I heartily wish, my dear general, my con- 
duct may be approved of, particularly by you. My cir- 
cumstances have been peculiar, and in this state 1 have 
sometimes experienced strange disappointments. Two 
of them, the stores at Charlottesville, and the delay of 
the Pennsylvania detachment, have given me much 
uneasiness and may be attended with bad consequences. 
Your presence, my dear general, would do a great deal. 
Should these detachments be increased to three or four 
thousand, and the French army come this way, leaving 
one of our generals at Rhode Island and two or three 
about New York and in the Jerseys, you might be very 
offensive in this quarter, and there could be a southern 
army in Carolina. Your presence would do immense 
good, but I would wish you to have a large force. Gen- 
eral Washington, before he personally appears, must be 
strong enough to hope success. Adieu, my dear gen- 
eral, with the highest respect and most tender affection, 
I have the honor to be, Yours,* 

P. S. If you persist in the idea to come this way 
you may depend upon about 3000 militia in the field, 
relieved every two months. Your presence will induce 
them to turn out with great spirit. 

* This letter, and the succeeding one to Gen. Greene, was written 
while LaFayette was retreating before Lord Cornwallis, and as he was 
about to cross the Rapidan to form a junction with Wayne. See the 
answers in Sparks's Writ, of Wash. v. 3. p. 86. 




Camp between Rappahannock and North Anna, June 3rd, 178T, 

SIR, I have done myself the honor to write you 
many letters, but least some of them should have mis- 
carried, which I much apprehend to have been the case, 
I shall repeat an account of the late transactions in this 

The junction of the enemy being made, which for the 
reasons I have mentioned it was impossible to prevent, 
I retired towards Richmond and waited for Lord Corn- 
wallis's movements, his regular force beingso vastly su- 
perior to mine. Reinforcements from below having still 
increased it, and his cavalry being ten to one, I could 
not think to bring into action a small body of eight or 
nine hundred men, that preserved the shadow of an ar- 
my and an inconsiderable number of militia whose defeat 
was certain and would be attended with a fatal loss of 

Lord Cornwallis had at first a project to cross above 
Richmond, but desisted from it and landed at Westover, 
he then proposed to turn our left flank, but before it 
was executed we moved by the left to the forks of 
Chickahomony, the enemy advanced twelve miles and 
we retreated in the same proportion ; they crossed 
Chickahomony and advanced on the road to Fredericks- 
burg. We marched in a parallel with them, keeping 
the upper part of the country. Our position at Matta- 
pony church would have much exposed the enemy's 
flank on their way to Fredericksburg, but they stopped 
at Cook's ford on the North Anna river, where the} are 
for the present. General Wayne having announced to 
me his departure on the 23d, I expected before this time 
to have made a junction. We have moved back some 
distance and are cautious not to Indulge Lord Cornwallis 
with an action with our present force. 


The intentions of the enemy are not as yet well explained. 
Fredericksburg appears to be their object, the more so 
as a greater number of troops are said to be gone down 
than is necessary for the garrison of Portsmouth. The 
public stores have been as well as possible removed, and 
every part of Hunter's works that could be taken out of 
the way. It is possible they mean to make a stroke 
towards Charlotteville ; this I would not be uneasy for, 
had my repeated directions been executed, but instead of 
removing stores from there to Albemarle old Court 
House, where Baron de Steuben has collected six hun- 
dred regulars, and where I ordered the militia south of 
James River to rendezvous It appears from a letter I 
received this evening that state stores have been contrary 
to my directions collected there, least they should mix 
with the Continentals, but my former letters were so 
positive, and my late precautions are so multiplied that 
I hope the precious part of the stores will have been re- 
moved to a safer place. I had also some stores removed 
from Orange Court House. Dispatches from the Gov- 
ernor to me have fallen into the enemies' hands ; of 
which I gave him and the Baron immediate notice. 

The report of an insurrection in Hampshire county, 
and the hurry of Lord Cornwallis to communicate the 
copy of a Cartel with you where it is settled the prisoners 
will be sent by such a time to Jamestown, are motives 
that gave me some suspicions of a project towards the 
Convention troops. The number of the rebels is said to 
be 700 Gen. Morgan has marched against them ; I 
think the account is pretty well authenticated tho' it is 
not official. Having luckily opened a letter from the 
Board of War, to the Governor whereby the Conven- 
tion troops are ordered to New England, I sent a copy 
of it to Col. Wood and requested an immediate execution 
of the order. This motive and -the apprehension that I 
might be interrupted in a junction with Gen. Wayne 
have induced me particularly to attend to our re-union, 
an event that was indispensable to give us a possibility to 
protect some part or other of this state. I was until 


lately ignorant of your orders, that the new Continentals 
and militia under Baron de Steuben be united with this 
part of your army, and the Baron intended shortly to 
march to the southward. When united to Gen. Wayne 
1 shall be better able to command my own movements 
and those of the other troops in this state. Had this 
expected junction taken place sooner, matters would 
have been very different. 

The enemy must have five hundred men mounted and 
their Cavalry ncreases daily. It is impossible in this 
country to take horses out of their way, and the neglect 
of the inhabitants, dispersion of houses, and robberies of 
negroes, (should even the most vigorous measures have 
been taken by the Civil authority) would have yet put 
many horses into their hands. Under this cloud of light 
troops it is difficult to reconnoitre as well as counteract 
any rapid movements they choose to make. 

I have the honor to be with great respect, &c. 



Allen's Creek, 22 miles from Richmond, June 18th, 1781. 

j The enemy's position at Cooke's ford enabled 
them either to return to James River or to gain our 
northern communication. The arms and other pre^ 
cious stores arriving from Philadelphia, the impor- 
tance of a junction with Gen. Wayne, and other strong 
reasons mentioned in my last, made it my first object to 
check the further progress of Lord Cornwallis. Some 
stores at the forks of James River were under the care 
of the major general, the Baron de Steuben, who had 
five hundred regulars of the Virginia new levies, and 
some militia. 

Col. Tarlton's legion having pressed for Charlottes- 
ville, where the Assembly were sitting, was disappointed 
in his purpose by proper information being given them, 


One hundred and fifty arms, however, and a small 
quantity of powder fell into the enemy's hands. 

A detachment under Col. Simcoe said to he four 
hundred dragoons and mounted infantry, proceeded 
to the point of Fork, of which the Baron de Steuhen 
received notice. Both his men and stores were trans- 
ported to the south branch when the Baron marched to 
Etaunton River. Simcoe threw over a few men which 
destroyed what stores had been left. He hazarded a 
great deal, but our loss was inconsiderable. 

In the meantime the British army was moving to the 
point of Fork, with intention to strike our magazines at 
Albermarle old Court House. Our force was not equal 
to their defence, and a delay of our junction would 
have answered the views of the enemy. But on the 
arrival of the Pennsylvanians we made forced marches 
towards James River, and on our gaining the South 
Anna we found Lord Cornwallis encamped some miles 
below the point of Fork. A stolen march through a 
difficult road gave us a position upon Michunk Creek, 
between the enemy and our magazines, where, agreea- 
ble to appointment, we were joined by a body of rifle- 
men. The next day Lord Cornwallis retired towards 
Richmond (where he now is) and was followed by our 
small army. 

I have directed General Steuben to return this way 
and a junction will be formed as soon as his distance 

With the highest regard, &c., &c. 

P. S. The following is an extract of a letter just 
now received from James Barron, Commodore, dated 
Warwick, 9 miles from Hampton, June 17th, 1781, 

" At five o'clock this afternoon anchored in the road 
from sea, 35 sail of the enemies' vessels ; viz : 24 ships, 
10 brigs and one schooner, which I take to be the fleet 
that sailed from hence 13 days ago. Only 4 appear to 
have troops on board." 




Mr. Tyter's plantation, 20 miles from Williamsburg, 27th June, 1781. 

SIR, My letter of the 18th, informed you of the 
enemy's retrograde movement to Richmond, where they 
had made a stop. Our loss at the point of Fork chiefly 
consisted of old arms out of repair and some cannon, 
most of which have been since recovered. 

On the 18th the British Army moved towards us with 
design as I apprehend to strike at a detached corps 
commanded by Gen. Muhlenberg, upon this the light 
Infantry and Pennsylvanians marched under Gen. 
Wayne when the enemy retired into town. The day 
following I was joined by Gen. Steuben's troops, and on 
the night of the 20th Richmond was evacuated. Hav- 
ing followed the enemy our light parties fell in with 
them near New Kent Court House, the army was still at 
a distance and Lord Cornwallis continued his route to- 
wards Williamsburg ; his rear and right flank were co- 
vered by a large corps commanded by Col. Simcoe. I 
pushed forward a detachment under Col. Butler, but 
notwithstanding a fatiguing march the colonel reports 
that he could not have overtaken them, had not Major 
McPherson mounted 50 light infantry behind an equal 
number of dragoons, which coming up with the enemy 
charged them within six miles of Williamsburg ; such 
of the advance corps as could arrive to their support, 
composed of riflemen under Major Call and Major 
Willis began a smart action. Inclosed is the return of 
our loss. That of the enemy is about 60 killed and 100 
wounded, including several officers, a disproportion 
which the skill of our riflemen easily explains. I am 
under great obligations to Col. Butler and the officers 
and men of the detachment for their ardor in the pur- 
suit and their conduct in the action. Gen. Wayne who 


had marched to the support of Butler, sent down some 
troops under Major Hamilton. The whole British 
army came out to save Simcoe, and on the arrival of 
our army upon this ground returned to Winsburg. The 
post they occupy at present is strong and under protec- 
tion of their shipping, but upwards of one hundred 
miles from the point of Fork. 

I had the honor to communicate these movements to 
the executive of the state that the seat of government 
might be again re-established in the capital. Lord 
Cornwallis has received a reinforcement from Ports- 

With the greatest respect I have the honor to be. 



Ambler's Plantation, opposite Jamestown, 8 July, 1781, 

SIR, On the 4th inst. the enemy evacuated Williams- 
burg where some stores fell into our hands, and retired 
to this place under the cannon of their shipping. Next 
morning we advanced to Bird's tavern, and a part of 
the army took post at Norrel's mill about nine miles from 
the British camp. 

The 6th I detached an advanced corps under Gen. 
Wayne with a view of reconnoitering the enemy's situa- 
tion. Their light parties being drawn in the pickets 
which lay close to their encampment were gallantly at- 
tacked by some riflemen whose skill was employed to 
great effect. 

Having ascertained that Lord Cornwallis had sent off 
his baggage under a proper escort and posted his army 
in an opened field fortified by the shipping, I returned 
to the detachment which I found more generally en- 
gaged. A piece of cannon had been attempted by the 
van guard under Major Galvan whose conduct deserves 


high applause. Upon this the whole British army came 
out and advanced to the thin wood occupied by General 
Wayne. His corps chiefly composed of Pennsylvanians 
and some light infantry did not exceed eight hundred 
men with three field pieces. But notwithstanding their 
numbers, at sight of the British the troops ran to the 
rencontre. A short skirmish ensued with a close, warm, 
and well directed firing, but as the enemy's right and 
left of course greatly outflanked ours, 1 sent General 
Wayne orders to retire half a mile to where Col. Vose's 
and Col. Barber's light infantry battalions had arrived by 
a rapid move, and where I directed them to form. In 
this position they remained till some hours in the night. 
The militia under Gen. Lawson had been advanced, 
and the continentals were at Norrel's mill when the 
enemy retreated during the night to James Island, which 
they also evacuated, crossing over to the south side of 
the river. Their ground at this place and the island were 
successively occupied by General Muhlenberg. Many 
valuable horses were left on their retreat. 

From every account the enemy's loss has been very 
great and much pains taken to conceal it. Their light 
infantry, the brigade of guards and two British regiments 
formed the first line, the remainder of the army the se- 
cond ; the cavalry were drawn up but did not charge. 

By the inclosed return you will see what part of Gen. 
Wayne's detachment suffered most. The services ren- 
dered by the officers make me happy to think that altho' 
many were wounded we lost none. Most of the field 
officers had their horses killed, and the same accident 
to every horse of two field pieces made it impossible to 
move them, unless men had been sacrificed. But it is 
enough for the glory of Gen. Wayne and the officers 
and men he commanded to have attacked the whole 
British army with a reconnoitering party only, close to 
their encampment, and by this severe skirmish hastened 
their retreat over the river. 

Col. Bowyer of the riflemen is a prisoner. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 




Mrs. Ruffin's, August 29th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL Independent of the answer to 
your letter of the 1 5th, I have been very particular in 
a second letter intrusted to Col. Moriss. But at this 
moment wish to send you minuted and repeated ac- 
counts of every thing that passes in this quarter. 

The enemy have evacuated their forts at Troy, 
Kemp's Landing, Great Bridge, and Portsmouth. Their 
vessels with troops and baggage went round to York. 
Some cannon have been left spiked up at Portsmouth ; 
but I have not yet received proper returns. 

I have got some intelligences by the way of this 
servant I have once mentioned. A very sensible fellow 
was with him, and from him as well as deserters, I hear 
that they begin fortifying at York. They are even 
working by a windmill at which place I understand they 
will make a fort and a battery for the defence of the 
river. I have no doubt but that something will be done 
on the land side. The works at Gloster are finished ; 
they consist of some redoubts across Gloster creek and 
a battery of 18 pieces beating the river. 

The enemy have 60 sails of vessels into York river, the 
largest a 50 gun ship and two 36 frigates. About seven 
other armed vessels, the remainder are transports, some 
of them still loaded and a part of them very small vessels. 
It appears they have in that number merchantmen, some 
of whom are Dutch prizes. The men of war are very 
thinly manned. On board the other vessels there are 
almost no sailors. 

The British army had been sickly at Portsmouth, the 

air of York begins to refit them. The whole cavalry 

have crossed on the Gloster side yesterday evening, a 

movement of which I gave repeated accounts to the 



militia there ; but the light infantry and main body 
of the militia aie at this place, Gen. Wayne on the 
road to Westover, and we may form our junction in one 
day. I keep parties upon the enemy's lines. The 
works at Portsmouth are levelling. The moment I can 
get returns and plans I will send them to your Excellency. 
The evacuation of a post fortified with much care and 
great expense will convince the people abroad that the 
enemy cannot hold two places at once. The Maryland 
troops were to have set out on Monday last. There is 
in this quarter an immense want of clothing of every 
sort, arms, ammunition, hospital stores, and horse ac- 
coutrements. Should a maritime superiority be expected, 
I would propose to have all those matters carried from 
Philadelphia to the head 'of Elk. 

The numbers of the British army fit for duty I at least 
would estimate at 4500, rank and file. Their sailors I 
cannot judge but by intelligences of the number of ves- 
sels. In a word this part affords the greatest number of 
regulars and the only active army to attack, which ha- 
ving had no place of defence must be less calculated for 
it than any garrison either at New York or in Carolina. 
With the highest respect and most sincere affection, &c. 



Holt's Forge, September the 1st, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL. I am happy to inform your 
Excellency that Count de Grasse's fleet is safely arrived 
in this bay ; it consists of 28 ships of the line with seve- 
ral frigates and convoys a considerable body of troops 
under Marquis de St. Simon. Previous to their arrival 
such positions had been taken by our army as to prevent 
the enemy's retreating towards Carolina. 


In consequence of your Excellency's orders I had the 
honor to open a correspondence with the French Gen- 
erals, and measures have been taken for a junction of 
our troops. 

Lord Cornwallis is still on York river and is fortifying 
himself in a strong position. 

With the highest respect I have the honor to be,* 



Camp Williamsburg, Sept. 8th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL. Your letter of the 2d Septem- 
ber is just come to hand. Mine of yesterday mentioned 
that the ships in York river had gone down. Inclosed 
is the account of an engagement off the capes. What 
disposition has been made for the internal protection of 
the bay, I do not know. James river is still guarded, 
but we have not as yet received any letter from Count 
de Grasse relative to his last movements. I hasten to 
communicate them as your Excellency will probably 
think it safer to keep the troops at the Head of Elks 
until Count de Grasse returns. Indeed, unless the 
greatest part of your force is brought here, a small addi- 
tion can do but little more than we do effect. Lord 
Cornwallis will in a little time render himself very re- 

I ardently wish your whole army may be soon brought 
down to operate. 

We will make it our business to reconnoitre the ene- 
my's works and give you on your arrival the best de- 
scription of it that is in our power. I expect the gov- 
ernor this evening and will again urge the necessity of 
providing what you have recommended. 

* See answer of Washington, Sparks's Writ, of Wash. v. 8. p. 156. 


By a deserter from York I hear that two British fri- 
gates followed the French fleet and returned after they 
had seen them out of the capes. A spy says that two 
schooners supposed to be French have been seen coming 
up York river, but we have nothing so certain as to in- 
sure your voyage, tho' it is probable Count de Grasse 
will soon return. 

I beg leave to request, my dear General, in your an- 
swer to the Marquis de St. Simon you will express your 
ad miration at this celerity of their landing and your sense 
of their cheerfulness in submitting to the difficulties of 
the first moments. Indeed I would be happy something 
might also be said to Congress on the subject. 

Your approbation of my conduct emboldens me to 
request that Gen. Lincoln will of course take command 
of the American part of your army ; the division I will 
have under him may be composed of the troops which 
have gone through the fatigues and dangers of the Vir- 
gin'a campaign ; this will be the greatest reward of the 
services I may have rendered, as I confess I have the 
strongest attachment to these troops. 

With the highest respect I have the honor to be,* 



Williamsburg, 10 Sept. 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Gourion is just arrived, he 
says you may be on your way. We hasten to send to 
the commanding naval officer in the bay. Hitherto I 
had no way to write to you by water, but Count de 
Grasse being at sea we request the officer he has left to 
have every precaution taken for the safety of navigation. 
It is probable they are taken, but I would have been too 

* See Letter of Washington, Sparks's Writ, of Wash. v. 8. p. 157. 
A plan of operations in Virginia at p. 158. 


uneasy had I not added this measure to those that have 
been probably adopted. 

I wrote several letters to you ; the surprising speedy 
landing of the French troops under the Marquis de St. 
Simon ; our junction at Williamsburg ; the unremitted 
ardor of the enemy in fortifying at York ; the sailing of 
Count de Grasse in pursuit of 16 sail of the line, of the 
British fleet, were the most principal objects. I added 
we were short of flour, might provide cattle enough. I 
took the liberty to advise James River as the best to 
land in, the particular spot referred to a mor particular 
examination, the result of which we shall s nd to-mor- 

Excuse the haste that I am in, but the idea of your 
being in a cutter leaves me only the tim ; to add that 
I am, &c. 



Camp before York, September 30th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL You have been so often pleased 
to ask I would give my opinion on any subject that may 
occur, that I will this day take the liberty to mention a 
few articles. 

I am far from laughing at the idea of the enemy's 
making a retreat. It is not very probable, but it is not 
impossible, indeed they have no other way to escape ; 
and since we cannot get ships at York 1 would be still 
more afraid of a retreat by West Point than any thing 
else. The French hussars remaining here, our dragoons 
and some infantry might be stationed somewhere near 
West Point, rather on the north side. I see the service 
is much done by details, and to use your permission 
would take the liberty to observe that when the siege is 
once begun it might be more agreeable to the officers 


and men to serve as much as possible by whole battalions. 
Col. Scamel is taken : his absence I had accounted for 
by his being officer of the day. I am very sorry we 
lose a valuable officer, but tho' Col. Scamel's being of- 
ficer of the day has been a reason for his going in front, 
I think it would be well to prevent the officers under the 
rank of generals or field officers reconnoitering for the 
safety of their commands from advancing so near the 
enemy's lines. 

There is a great disproportion between Huntington's 
and Hamilton's battalions. Now that Scamel is taken 
we might have them made equal and put the eldest of 
the two Lieutenant Colonels upon the right of the 

I have these past days wished for an opportunity to 
speak with your Excellency on Count de Grasse's de- 
mand relative to Mr. de Barrass's fleet. This business 
being soon done, we may think of Charleston, at least 
of the harbor or of Savannah. I have long and seriously 
thought of this matter but would not be in a hurry to 
mention it until we knew how long this will last. 
However it might be possible, to give Count de Grasse 
an early hint of it in case you agree with him upon the 
winterly departure of the whole fleet for the West Indies. 
One of my reasons to wish troops (tho' not in great 
number) to be sent to Glocester county by way of West 
Point is that for the first days it will embarrass any move- 
ment of the enemy up the river or up the country on 
either side, and when it is in Glocester county it may be 
thought advantageous by a respectable regular force to 
prevent the enemy's increasing their works there and 
giving us the trouble of a second operation, and in the 
same time it will keep from York a part of the British 

With the highest respect and most sincere affection I 
have the honor to be, &c.* 

*For a "Plan of the Siege of Yorktown," see Spark's Writ, of 
Wash. v. 8. p. 186. 




November 29th, 1781. 

MY DEAR GENERAL, Inclosed you will find some 
numbers, a copy of which I have kept, and which con- 
tains some names that may probably occur in our cor- 
respondence. I need not tell you, my dear General, that 
I will be happy in giving you every intelligence in my 
power and reminding you of the most affectionate friend 
you can ever have. 

The goodness you had to take upon yourself the 
communicating to the Virginia army the approbation of 
Congress appears much better to me than my writing 
to the scattered part of the body I had the honor to 
command. Give me leave, my dear General, to recall 
to your memory the peculiar situation of the troops who 
being already in Virginia were deprived of the month's 
pay given to the others. Should it be possible to do 
something for them it would give me great satisfaction. 

I will have the honor to write to you from Boston, 
my dear General, and would be very sorry to think this 
is my last letter. Accept however once more the ho- 
mage of the respect and of the affection that render ine 
for ever 






AFTER the combat of MM. Destouches and Arbuthnot, the 
project on Portsmouth was abandoned : the French sailed 
for Rhode Island ; the militia were dismissed, the regular 
troops proceeded to the north. Arnold was afterwards 
reinforced by Major-general Phillips, and the conquest of 
Virginia became the true object of the English during this 
campaign. The allied army, under the Generals Wash- 
ington and Rochambeau, proceeded towards New York; 
that of General Greene attacked the posts which had been 
left in Carolina, both about five hundred miles from Rich- 
mond : Major-general the Marquis de Lafayette was 
charged with defending Virginia. 

April and May. From preparations made at Ports- 
mouth, he conceives that the capital was the proposed aim ; 
a forced march of his corps from Baltimore to Richmond, 
about two hundred miles ; he arrives in the evening of the 
29th of April ; the enemy had reached Osborn ; the small 
corps of militia assemble in the night at Richmond ; the 
next morning the enemy at Manchester, seeing themselves 
forestalled, re-embark at Bermuda Hundred, and re-descend 
James River. 

The Americans at Bottom's Bridge, a detached corps in 
Williamsburg ; General Phillips receives an aviso, and re- 
ascends the river, landing at Brandon; second reinforce- 
ment from New York ; Lord Cornwallis, who was reported 

R R 


to have embarked at Charlestown, advances through North 

The Americans at Osborn, to establish a communication 
on James and Appomattox, are forestalled by the march of 
Phillips to Petersburg, the 10th, at Wilton ; the 18th, can- 
nonading and reconnoitring on Petersburg, which, by 
assembling on one point, the hostile parties permit a convoy- 
to file off for Carolina ; the 20th, at Richmond ; junction 
of Lord Cornwallis with the troops of Petersburg; the 
great disproportion of the American corps, the impossibility 
of commanding the navigable rivers, and the necessity of 
keeping the important side of James River, do not allow 
any opposition. 

Having sent a portion of the troops to Portsmouth, Lieu- 
tenant-general Lord Cornwallis selected for himself an army 
of about five thousand men, three hundred dragoons, and 
three hundred light horsemen ; crosses to Westover. The 
Americans had only about three thousand men, formed of 
one thousand two hundred regulars, fifty dragoons, and two 
thousand militia. All the important forces had evacuated 
Richmond ; our troops at Wintson's Bridge ; a rapid march 
of the two corps, the enemies to engage an action, the 
Americans to avoid it, and retain the heights of the country 
with the communication of Philadelphia, which is equally 
necessary to our army and to the existence of that of 

June. The magazines of Fredericksburg are evacuated ; 
the Americans at Mattapony Church; the enemy at Ches- 
terfield Tavern ; heavy rains, which will render the Rapid 
Ann impassable; Lord Cornwallis marches to engage the 
front ; our troops hasten their march, and repair to Racoon 
Ford, to await General Wayne, with a regular corps of 

Despairing of being able to engage in action, or cut off 
the communication between Wayne and Philadelphia, Lord 
Cornwallis changes his own purpose, and endeavours to 
defeat that of the Americans ; he suddenly directs his move- 
ments against the great magazines of Albemarle Court- 
House ; a detachment of dragoons strives to carry off the 
Assembly of State at Charlottesville, but does not accom- 
plish this end; another detachment bore upon Point-of- 
Fork, where General Steuben formed six or seven hundred 


recruits ; he evacuated that point, and thought he ought to 
retire in the direction of Carolina ; some objects of slighi 
importance are destroyed. The passage of the Rapid Ann 
was necessary, to avoid being embarrassed by Lord Corn- 
wallis; the communication with Philadelphia was indis- 
pensable. It was impossible to hope, even by fighting, to 
prevent the destruction of the magazines before the junction 
with the Pennsylvanians. Lafayette takes, therefore, the 
resolution of waiting for them, and, as soon as they arrive, 
regains the enemy with forced marches. 

The 12th, the Americans at Boswell's Tavern ; Lord 
Cornwallis has reached Elk Island. The common road, 
which it is necessary for him to cross to place himself above 
the enemy, passes at the head of Bird's Creek ; Lord Corn- 
wallis carries thither his advance-guard, and expects to fall 
upon our rear ; the Americans repair, during the night, a 
road but little known, and, concealing their march, take a 
position at Mechunck Creek, where, according to the orders 
given, they are joined by six hundred mountaineers. The 
English general, seeing the magazines covered, retires to 
Richmond, and is followed by our army. 

Various manoeuvres of the two armies ; the Americans 
are rejoined by General Steuben, with his recruits ; their 
force then consists of two thousand regulars, and three thou- 
sand two hundred militia. Lord Cornwallis thinks he must 
evacuate Richmond; die 20th, the Marquis de Lafayette 
follows him, and retains a posture of defence, seeking to 
manoeuvre, and avoiding a battle. The enemy retires on 
Williamsburg, six miles from that town ; their rear-guard 
is attacked in an advantageous manner by our advanced 
corps under Colonel Butler. Station taken by the Ame- 
ricans at one march from Williamsburg. 

July. Various movements, which end by the evacuation 
of Williamsburg; the enemy at Jamestown. Our army 
advances upon them : the 6th, a sharp conflict between the 
hostile army and our advance-guard under General Wayne, 
in front of Green Spring : two pieces of cannon remain in 
their hands ; but their progress is arrested by a reinforce- 
ment of light infantry ; the same night they retire upon 
James Island, afterwards to Cobham, on the other side of 
James River, and from thence to their works at Ports- 


mouth. Colonel Tarleton is detached into Amelia County ; 
the generals Morgan and Wayne march to cut him off; he 
abandons his project, burns his wagons, and retires with 
precipitation. The enemy remaining in Portsmouth, the 
American army takes a healthy station upon Malvan Hill, 
and reposes after all its labour. 

August. The Americans refusing to descend in front of 
Portsmouth, a portion of the English army embarks and 
proceeds by water to Yorktown and Gloucester. General 
Lafayette takes a position at the Fork of Pamunkey and 
Mattapony River, having a detached corps upon both sides 
of York River. The Pennsylvanians and some new levies 
receive orders to remain on James River, and think them- 
selves intended for Carolina. An assembly of militia on 
Moratie or Roanoke River ; the fords and roads south of 
James River destroyed on various pretences ; movements to 
occupy the attention of the enemy. As in the event pre- 
pared by Lafayette, the means of escape would remain to 
the garrison of Portsmouth, Lafayette threatened that point. 
. General O'Hara thinks he ought to nail up thirty pieces of 
cannon, and join the largest part of the army. The whole 
was scarcely united, when the Count de Grasse appears at 
the entrance of Chesapeak Bay. General Wayne crosses 
the river, and places himself in such a manner as to arrest 
the enemy's march, if he should attempt to retreat towards 
Carolina. The French admiral is waited for at Cape 
Henry by an aide-de-camp of Lafayette, to report to him 
the respective situations of the land troops, and ask him to 
make the necessary movements to cut off all retreat to the 
enemy. He anchors at Cape Henry, sends three vessels to 
York River, and fills James River with frigates ; the Mar- 
quis de Saint Simon, with three thousand men, lands at 
James Island or Jamestown. 

September. The river thus defended, General Wayne 
receives the order to cross it; the Marquis de Lafayette 
marches upon Williamsburg, and assembles together, in a 
good position, the combined troops, to the number of seven 
thousand three hundred men. He had left one thousand 
five hundred militia in the county of Gloucester, and sends 
to hasten some troops coming from the north. This station, 
which closes all retreat to Lord Cornwallis, (our advance 


posts nine miles from York,) is retained from the 4th to the 
28th of September, Lord Cornwallis reconnoitres the posi- 
tion of Lafayette, and despairs of forcing it. 

The 6th September, the Count de Grasse, quitting the 
defended rivers, goes out with the remainder of his fleet, 
pursues Admiral Hood, who had presented himself, beats 
him, and sinks the Terror ; he takes the Iris and Richmond 
frigates ; the 13th, he joins, in the bay, the squadron of M. 
de Barras, which had sailed from Rhode Island, with eight 
hundred men and the French artillery : the fleet of the 
Count de Grasse consists, at this period, of thirty-eight ships 
of the line. 

Admiral de Grasse and General Saint Simon, com- 
manders of the French under Lafayette, urge him to attack 
Lord Cornwallis, and 'offer him a reinforcement from the 
ship garrisons. He prefers acting on more secure grounds, 
and waiting for the troops from the north. General Wash- 
ington succeeded in reality, in completely deceiving General 
Clinton as to his intentions; he was advancing towards 
Virginia with an American detachment, and the army of 
the Count de Rochambeau embarked at the head of Chesa- 
peak ; they proceeded, upon transports, to Williamsburg. 
The 28th, they march upon New York, and the combined 
army commences investing it ; the 29th, reconnoitring the 
place ; the 30th, the enemy evacuates the advance posts, 
and retires into the works of York. 

October. The 1st, anew reconnoitre ; the 3rd, a skirmish 
between the legion of the Duke de Lauzun and that of 
Tarleton, in which the former gained the advantage. That 
legion and eight hundred men from the ships under M. de 
Choisy had joined the militia at Gloucester. The night of 
the 6th, the trenches were opened; that of the llth, the 
second parallel. The night of the 14th, the redoubts of the 
enemy's left were taken, sword in hand, the one by the 
grenadiers and French light horsemen, the other by the 
light infantry of the Americans. The first attack directed 
by the Baron de Viomenil, a field-marshal ; the second by 
the Marquis de Lafayette. The morning of the 17th, Lord 
Cornwallis asked to capitulate; that same evening the firing 
ceased. The English army, reduced to eight thousand men, 
comprising nine hundred militia, gave themselves up as 
prisoners of war. 



Havre, 18th July, 1779, 

SIR, You ask me for some ideas respecting an expedition 
to America. As it is not a fixed plan which you require, 
nor a memorial addressed in form to the ministry, it will be 
the more easy to comply with your wishes. 

The state of America, and the new measures wKich the 
British appear to be adopting, render this expedition more 
than ever necessary. Deserted coasts, ruined ports, com- 
merce checked, fortified posts whence expeditions are sent, 
all seem to call for our assistance, both by sea and land. 
The smallest effort made now, would have more effect on 
the people than a great diversion at a more distant period ; 
but besides the gratitude of the Americans, and particularly 
of the oppressed states, a body of troops would insure us a 
great superiority on that continent. In short, sir, without 
entering into tedious details, you know that my opinions on 
this point have never varied, and my knowledge of this 
country convinces me, that such an expedition, if well con- 
ducted, would not only succeed in America, but would be 
of very essential service to our own country. 

Besides the advantage of gaining the affection of the 
Americans, and that of concluding a good peace, France 
should seek to curtail the means of approaching vengeance. 
On this account it is extremely important to take Halifax ; 
but as we should require foreign aid, this enterprise must 
be preceded by services rendered to different parts of the 
continent; we should then receive assistance, and, under 
pretext of invading Canada, we should endeavour to seize 
Halifax, the magazine and bulwark of the British navy in 
the new world. 


Well aware that a proposition on a large scale would 
not be acceded to, I will diminish, as much as possible, the 
necessary number of troops. I will say four thousand men, 
a thousand of them to be grenadiers and chasseurs; to 
whom I will add two hundred dragoons and one hundred 
hussars, with the requisite artillery. The infantry should 
be divided into full battalions, commanded by lieutenant- 
colonels. If commissions of higher rank should be desired 
for the older officers, you are aware that the minister of 
marine has it in his power to bestow such, as when the ex- 
pedition returns to Europe, will have no value in the land 
service. We want officers who can deny themselves, live 
frugally, abstain from all airs, especially a quick, peremp- 
tory manner, and who can relinquish, for one year, the 
pleasures of Paris. Consequently we ought to have few 
colonels and courtiers, whose habits are in no respect 

I would ask, then, for four thousand three hundred men, 
and, as I am not writing to the ministry, allow me, for 
greater ease in speaking, to suppose myself for a moment 
the commander of this detachment. You are sufficiently ac- 
quainted with my principles to know that I shall not court 
the choice of the king. Although I have commanded, with 
some success, a larger body of troops, and I frankly confess 
I feel myself capable of leading them, yet my intention is not 
to put forth my own claims ; but to answer for the actions 
of a stranger would be a folly, and as, setting talents apart, 
it is on the political conduct of the leader, the confidence 
of the people and of the American army, that half the suc- 
cess must depend, I am obliged, reluctantly, to set forth a 
character that I know, in order to establish my reasonings 
upon some basis. 

Leaving this digression, I come to the embarkation of 
these four thousand three hundred men. As the coasts of 
Normandy and Brittany have been much harassed, I should 
propose sailing from the Island of Aix; troops and pro- 
visions might be obtained in the vicinity. The ports 
between Lorient and the channel would furnish transport 
vessels.* Lorient has some merchant ships of a pretty 

* I hear that you have, at Lorient, three vessels of the India company, 
of forty guns and eight hundred tons. These caracks, if I recollect rightly, 


large burthen. The caracks of the channel are still larger, 
and these vessels have, moreover, guns of large calibre,, 
which may be of use, either in battle y or in silencing bat- 
teries on shore ; besides, they might be ready in a very short 
time. I would embark the solcliers, a man to every two- 
tons, and would admit the dragoons, with their cavalry 
equipage only. There are many details I would give if 
the project be decided upon, but would be superfluous to> 
mention here. After the experience of Count d'Estaing^ 
who found himself straitened with biscuit for four months, 
and flour for two, I would take the latter, adding biscuit 
for six months, which would make in all eight months* pro- 
vision for the marine and the troops. As to our escort,, 
that must be decided upon by the marine ; but our trans- 
ports being armed vessels, three ships of the line, one of 
fifty guns for the rivers, three frigates and two cutters^ 
would appear to me to be more than sufficient. As the 
expedition is especially a naval one, the commander of the 
squadron should be a man of superior abilities ; his charac- 
ter, his patriotism, are important points. I have never 
seen M. de Guichen, but the reports I have heard of his 
worth and modesty prepossess me strongly in his favour. 
Being then at the Island of Aix with our detachment, and 
the squadron that is to transport it, the next question is 
how to act, and our movements must depend entirely upon 
circumstances. According to the first project, we were to 
sail by the first of September, and by the second to remain 
here until the last of January ;* it might, however, be pos- 
sible to sail in October. This even appears to me better 
than remaining until the close of January ; but the different 
operations are included in the other plan* The enemy's 

are fifty-gun ships, of nine hundred and sixty tons burthen. A small 
number of vessels would be sufficient ; they might soon be got ready, and 
their force would diminish the required escort. As for frigates, you will 
find in readiness, at Lorient, the Alliance, the Pallas, and others. How- 
ever, if you are determined to employ the vessels which are fitted out in 
the expedition against England, it would be necessary to take ours from 
St. Malo in preference. (Note from M. de Lafayette.) 

* Virginia and Carolina would be the scene of our operations during 
the months of December and January, and we should pass the remainder 
of the winter at Boston. I greatly prefer this project to waiting until the 
last of January. 


fleet is to be reinforced, and, as we are assured that four or 
five weeks' preparation will be sufficient for the transports 
and the troops, there is nothing unreasonable in forming 
our projects for this autumn, and even for the month of 

The advantages of commencing our operations in that 
month would be, first, to deprive the enemy of Rhode 
Island ; secure to ourselves, till spring, a fine island and 
harbour, and have it in our power to open the campaign 
when we please. Secondly, to establish our superiority in 
America before the winter negotiations. Thirdly, if peace 
should be desired, to place an important post in our side of 
the balance. Fourthly, in case the enemy should have ex- 
tended their forces over any one of the states, to drive them 
away with the more ease, as we should take them by 

A few days before our departure, and not sooner (to pre- 
vent the consequences of an indiscretion), three corvettes 
should be despatched to America, with letters to M. de 
Luzerne, to congress, and to General Washington. We 
might write that the king, desiring to serve his allies, and 
agreeably to the requests of Dr. Franklin, intends sending 
some vessels to America, and, with them, a body of land 
forces ; and that, if congress is in want of their assistance, 
they will willingly lend their aid to General Washington, 
but otherwise they will proceed to the Islands. This form 
will be perfectly appropriate. On my part, I would write, 
in my capacity of an American officer, more detailed letters 
to congress, and to General Washington. To the latter I 
would say, confidentially, that we have almost a carte blanche, 
and unfold my plans, and request him to make the neces- 
sary preparations. It should be reported at our departure 
that we 'are destined as a garrison to one of the Antilles, 
while the troops of these islands act on the offensive, and 
that, in the summer, we shall be ordered to attempt a revo- 
lution in Canada. 

The squadron sailing before the 10th of September, would 
arrive at Sandy Hook, off the coast of Jersey, early in 
November, one of the finest months of the year in inde- 
pendent America. Our fleet would then seem to threaten 
New York, and we should find, on our arrival, pilots for 
different destinations, and the necessary signals and counter- 


signs.* If Rhode Island should be the proper point of 
attack, of which I have no doubt, we would steer southward 
towards evening, and, putting about during the night, land 
at Block Island, and lay siege to Newport. 

There are some continental troops, who might reach 
Bristol in a day. There are militia at Tivertown, who 
might also be mustered. Greenwich having also a body of 
troops, must have flat-bottomed boats; those at Sledge 
Ferry would be sent down. All these we should find on 
the spot. To escape the inconveniences experienced the 
last year, the naval commander should send, without a mo- 
ment's delay, two frigates, to occupy the eastern channel, 
and force the middle one, a thing of trifling danger. The 
vessels found there should be destroyed ; and as the enemy 
usually leave at Conanicut Island a body of from six to 
fifteen hundred men, we might easily seize it, and make our 
land rendezvous there. If the wind should be favourable, 
the vessels might return the same night, or the end of the 
squadron might join them ; all these manoeuvres, however, 
will depend on circumstances. Thus much is certain, that 
the same wind which brings us to land will enable us to 
make ourselves masters of the eastern channel, so as to 
assist the Americans at Bristol and Tivertown, and, if pos- 
sible, to secure the middle channel ; at all events, however, 
it is easy to effect a landing in the manner I describe.f 

Newport is strongly fortified on the side towards the 
land, but all the shore that is behind the town offers great 
facilities for landing ; it is, besides, too extensive to admit 
of being defended by batteries. There the French troops 
might easily disembark, and, reaching at day-break the 

* To deceive the enemy, pilots might be assembled from different parts, 
under pretence of sending them to the Islands, at the request of the French. 
This business, as well as the preparations and signals, might be entrusted 
to a lieutenant-colonel of the royal corps of engineers, an officer of great 
merit at the head of the American corps of engineers, who, under cover of 
working to the fortifications of the Delaware, might remain near Sandy 

-V The frigates or vessels necessary to protect the landing, either real or 
pretended, of the Americans, should anchor in those channels. The enemy 
would then be obliged either to disperse among the forts, and thereby to 
weaken their lines, or else to leave the field open to the Americans, who, 
by a diversion upon the lines, would force the enemy to have them fully 
manned^ and prerent them attending to their rear. 


heights which command the town and the enemy's lines, 
might seize their outworks and storm all before them, pro- 
tected, if necessary, by the fire of the ships. The enemy, 
scattered and confounded by these false attacks on both 
sides of the island, would suppose that the system of the 
past year was re-adopted. The bolder this manoeuvre ap- 
pears, the more confident we may be of its success. 

You are aware, moreover, that in war all depends on the 
moment ; the details of the attack would be quickly decided 
on the spot. I need only say here, that my thorough know- 
ledge of the island leads me to think that, with the above- 
mentioned number of troops, and a very slender co-opera- 
tion on the part of America, I might pledge myself to gain 
possession of the island in a few days.* 

As soon as we are in possession of the island, we must 
write to the state of Rhode Island, offering to resign the 
place to the national troops. Unless the state should prefer 
waiting for the opinion of General Washington, our offer 
would be accepted, and we should be invited to establish 
ourselves there during the winter. The batteries upon 
Goat Island, Brenton's Point and Conanicut Island, would 
render the passage of the harbour the more secure to us, 
particularly with the aid of our vessels, as the British are 
not strong enough to attack us there, and would never 
attempt it in an unfavourable season. We should be sup- 
ported by the country, and although it is said to be difficult 
to procure provisions, I should endeavour to preserve our 
naval stores, and should obtain more resources than the 
American army itself. 

The same letter that announces to congress our success 
in Rhode Island, of which, as far as calculations may be 
relied on, there is little doubt, should also mention our pro- 
posed voyage to the West Indies, and inquire whether our 
assistance is further needed. Their reply would open to 
new fields of service, and, with their consent, we would leave 

* It is necessary, however, to consider all the unfortunate contingencies 
that may occur. If the expedition to Rhode Island should be prevented, 
or if it should not succeed, or if nothing can be attempted at New York, 
we ought then to proceed on our expeditions against Virginia, or Georgia, 
or Carolina, and winter afterwards at Boston, leaving Rhode Island to 
the next season, as proposed in our plan of sailing in the month of 


the sick in a hospital at Greenwich, and the batteries 
manned by the militia, and proceed to Virginia. It might 
be hoped, without presumption, that James River Point, if 
still occupied, would yield to the united efforts of our 
troops and those of the Virginians. The bay of Chesapeak 
would then be free, and that state might bend its whole 
force against its western frontiers. * 

It is impossible to estimate here the posts which the 
British occupy in America. Georgia and Carolina appear 
to need our assistance, and the precise operation against 
Rhode Island must be decided on the spot ; but to give a 
general idea, it is sufficient to say that the months of 
December and January should be employed at the south. 
As the English are obliged to station some of their vessels, 
frigates, merchant ships, or transports, in each of their ports, 
they would amount in the whole to a considerable loss. 

In the month of February we would return to Newport, 
where we might employ ourselves in interchanges with New 
York ; and the French sailors, exchanged for soldiers, mi^ht 
be sent under a flag of truce to M. d'Orvillers. Political 
interests might be treated of with congress, and the com- 
mander of che detachment go to Philadelphia to make 
arrangements with the minister plenipotentiary for the next 
campaign, and to lay some proposals before congress and 
General Washington. I should propose sending for deputies 
from the different savage nations, making them presents, 
endeavouring to gain them over from the side of the English, 
and to revive in their hearts that ancient love of the French 
nation which, at some future day, it may be important for 
us to possess. 

It is needless to say here, that if w r e should wait until the 
month of October, the season would be too far advanced to 
think of Rhode Island, but the southern operations would 
be equally practicable, and their success more certain, as we 
should take the enemy by surprise. 

In that case, instead of proceeding to Newport, we 
should winter at Boston, where we should be well received, 
and provided with every accommodation. We could open 

* If the capture of the Bermudas, or some expedition of the kind, should 
be considered necessary, the rest of the winter might be employed in 
carrying it into effect. 


the campaign when we pleased, and might make prepara- 
tions beforehand for a great expedition against Rhode Is- 
land, procuring, at the same time, from the inhabitants of the 
ports of the north of Boston, and especially that of Marble 
Head, all the information they may have acquired about 

But let us suppose ourselves established at Newport. 
The campaign opens by the close of April, and the British 
will be in no haste to quit New York. The fear of leaving 
himself unprotected on our side will prevent his executing 
any design against the forts on the North River. It may 
even be in our power to assist General Washington in 
making an attack on New York. Count d'Estaing, before 
his departure, thought that he had discovered the possi- 
bility of a passage through the Sound. This question I leave 
to naval officers ; but, without being one myself, I know 
that Long Island might be captured, the troops driven off, 
and, whilst General Washington made a diversion on his 
side, batteries might be erected that would greatly annoy 
the garrison of New York. At all events, preparations 
should be made to act against Halifax in the month of June. 
With the claims which the other expedition would give us, 
I will pledge myself that we should be assisted in this by 
the Americans. I could find at Boston, and in the northern 
parts, trust-worthy persons who could go to Halifax for us, 
and procure all the necessary information ; the town of 
Marble Head, in particular, would furnish us with excellent 
pilots. The inhabitants of the north of New Hampshire 
and Cascobay should be assembled under the command of 
their general, Stark, who gained the victory at Bennington, 
ready to march, if circumstances require it, by the route of 
Annapolis. The country is said to be inhabited by subjects 
ill affected to British government ; * some of them have 
entered into a correspondence with the Americans, and 
have given assurances that they will form a party in our 

With regard to ourselves, I suppose that "we sail the 
1st of June, and that we are accompanied by some conti- 

* The last time I was at Boston, I saw there a respectable man, a 
meinber of the council in Nova Scotia, who had secretly entered into the 
service of General Gates, and who assured us of the favourable disposition 
of the inhabitants. 


nental frigates, and such private vessels as might be collected 
in Boston. Congress would undoubtedly furnish us with 
as many troops as we should require, and those very 
brigades which lately belonged to my division, and whose 
sole object at present is to keep the enemy at Rhode Island in 
check, having no longer any employment, would be able to 
join us without impairing the main army. They would come 
the more willingly, as the greater part of the regiments be- 
longing to the northern part of New England would be 
averse to crossing the Hudson River, and would prefer a 
service more advantageous to their own country.* We 
should find at Boston cannon and mortars. Others, if 
necessary, might be sent from Springfield, and the corps of 
American artillery is tolerably good. 

The enemy would suspect our designs the less, as their 
ideas run wholly upon an invasion of Canada ; the move- 
ments of the militia in the north would be considered as a 
plan for uniting with us at Sorel, near the River St. Francis, 
as we ascended the St. Lawrence : this opinion, which, with 
a little address, might be strengthened, would awaken appre- 
hensions and excite disturbances at Quebec ;f and if a 
vessel of vvar should by chance be at Halifax ready for 
sea, they would probably despatch it to the threatened 

I have never seen the town of Halifax, but those persons 
who, before the war, were in the English service, and had 
spent most of the time in garrison, inform me that the great 
point is, to force to the right and left the passage of 
George's Island, and that a landing might be effected with- 
out difficulty, either on the side towards the eastern battery, 
in order to seize that battery and Fort Sackville, or, which 
appears to be a shorter way, on the side towards the town. 
The northern suburb, where the magazines are, is but 
slightly defended. The basin, where vessels are repaired, 
might also be_ secured. Several officers, worthy of con- 
fidence, have assured me, that Halifax is built in the form us 
of an amphitheatre ; that all the houses might be can- 

* General Gates, who is popular in New England, and perfectly ac- 
quainted with Halifax, has often proposed to make an expedition, in 
concert, against that town, with French and American troops combined. 

f- In the present harassed state of the English, I doubt if they will have 
in port any vessel capable of joining the squadron. 


nonaded by the vessels that had forced the passage, and, in 
that case, the town would compel the garrison to surrender. 
As the troops might destroy all the works on the shore, and 
the vessels of war easily carry the batteries on the islands, 
I am well persuaded, and the accounts of ah 1 who have been 
there convince me still more, that Halifax would be unable 
to withstand the united power of our forces and those of 

The idea of a revolution in Canada is gratifying to all 
good Frenchmen ; and if political considerations condemn 
it, you will perceive that this is to be done only by suppress- 
ing every impulse of feeling. The advantages and disad- 
vantages of this scheme demand a full discussion, into which 
I will not at present enter. Is it better to leave in the 
neighbourhood of the Americans an English colony, the 
constant source of fear and jealousy, or to free our oppressed 
brethren, recover the fur trade, our intercourse with the 
Indians, and the profit of our ancient establishments, with- 
out the expenses and losses formerly attending them ? Shall 
we throw into the balance of the new world a fourteenth 
state, which would be always attached to us, and which, by 
its situation, would give us a superiority in the troubles that 
may, at some future day, agitate America ? Opinions are 
very much divided on this topic. I know yours, and my 
own is not unknown to you ; I do not, therefore, dwell on it, 
and consider it in no other light than as a means of deceiving 
and embarrassing the enemy. If, however, it should at any 
time be brought under consideration, it would be necessary 
to prepare the people beforehand; and the knowledge 
which I was obliged to obtain when a whole army was about 
to enter that country has enabled me to form some idea of 
the means of succeeding there. But to return to Nova 
Scotia : part of the American troops, who will accompany 
us, and such of the inhabitants as take up arms in our favour, 
might be left there as a garrison. It would be easy to de- 
stroy or take possession of the English establishments on the 

* I have not made any allowance for the diversion in the north, of which, 
however, I feel certain, and if the troops should not go to Annapolis, 
would, at least, compel a part of the British garrison, and such of the inha- 
bitants as adhered to the royal party, to remain in the fort. 


banks of Newfoundland, and after this movement we should 
direct our course according to circumstances. Supposing 
that we could return to Boston or Rhode Island during the 
Tjionth of September, and that New York had not yet been 
taken, we might still be enabled to assist General Washing- 
ton. Otherwise St. Augustine, the Bermudas, or some 
other favourable points of attack, migH engage our atten- 
tion ; on the other hand, if we should be ordered home, we 
might reach France in three weeks or a month from the 
banks of Newfoundland, and alarm the coasts of Ireland on 
our way. 

If the September plan, which combines all advantages, 
appears too near at hand, if it were decided even not to send 
us in October, it would be necessary to delay our departure 
until the end of January. In this case, as in the former, 
we should be preceded fifteen days only by corvettes ; we 
should pass the month of April in the south, attack Rhode 
Island in May, and arrive at Halifax the last of June. But 
you are aware that the autumn is, on many accounts, the 
most favourable time for our departure ; at all events, you 
will not accuse me of favouring this opinion from interested 
motives, as a winter at Boston or Newport is far from equi- 
valent to one spent at Paris.* 

These views, in obedience to your request, I have the 
honour to submit to your judgment ; I do not affect to give 
them the form of a regular plan, but you will weigh the 
different schemes according to circumstances. I trust that 
you will receive these remarks with the greater indulgence, 
as my American papers, those respecting Halifax excepted, 
are at Paris, and, consequently, almost all my references 
are made from memory ; beside, I did not wish to annoy 
you with details too long for a letter, and if you are desirous 
to converse more freely on the subject, the impossibility of 
leaving the port of Havre, at present, will allow me time to 
spend three days at Versailles. 

* Fifteen hundred or two thousand select troops thrown into America 
might aid General Washington, and enable him to act on the offensive, by 
supplying him with good heads to his columns, and by uniting the French 
with an American division for combined operations. This plan would be 
of some use, but it appeared to me that you wished for one offering results 
of greater importance. 


I am thoroughly convinced, and I cannot, without violat- 
ing my conscience, forbear repeating, that it is highly im- 
portant for us to send a body to America. Ifjhe United 
States should object to it, I think it is our duty to remove 
their objections, and even to suggest reasons for it. But on 
this head you will be anticipated, and Dr. Franklin is only 
waiting a favourable occasion to make the propositions. 
Even if the operations of the present campaign, with the 
efforts of Count d'Estaing, or some other fortunate accident 
should have given affairs a favourable turn, there will be a 
sufficient field for us, and one alone of the proposed ad- 
vantages would repay the trouble of sending the detach- 

A very important point, and one on which I feel obliged 
to lay the greatest stress, is the necessity of perfect and in- 
violable secrecy. It is unnecessary to trust any person, and 
even the men who are most actively employed in fitting out 
the detachment and the vessel need not to be informed of the 
precise intentions of government. At farthest, the secret 
should be confided to the naval commander, and to the 
leader of the land forces, and not even to them before the 
last moment. 

It will certainly be said that the French will be coldly 
received in that country, and regarded with a jealous eye 
in their army. I cannot deny that the Americans are 
difficult to be dealt with, especially by the Frenchmen ; but 
if I were intrusted with the business, or if the commander 
chosen by the king, acts with tolerable judgment, I would 
pledge my life that all difficulties would be avoided, and 
that the French troops would be cordially received. 

For my own part, you know my sentiments, and you will 
never doubt that my first interest is to serve my country. 
I hope, for the sake of the public good, that you will send 
troops to America. I shall be considered too young, I pre- 
sume, to take the command, but I shall surely be employed. 
If, in the arrangement of this plan, any one, to whom my 
sentiments are less known than to yourself, in proposing 
for me either the command or some inferior commission, 
should assign as a reason, that I should thereby be induced 
to serve my country with more zeal either in council or in 
action, I took the liberty (putting aside the minister of the 


Mrs. Shelley's New Work. 


Authoress of " Frankenstein," " The Last Man," &c. 




2 vols. beatifully Illustrated. 


Mr. Grant's New Work. 


" Random Recollections of the Lords and Commons" fyc 
Fourth Edition. 

Mr. Bulwer's New Drama: 


A Play in Five Acts. 

Second Edition. 


Mr. Willis's New Work. 


Third Edition. 


(Prince of Canino.) 

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